Most of us will probably never pull a Steven Slater: curse out a customer, grab a drink and leave our place of employment in a blaze of glory.
But let’s face it, we’ve all had the urge.
Slater, a flight attendant on JetBlue, instantly became a folk hero in many people’s eyes Monday after he grabbed a microphone and ranted at a passenger who had refused to apologize for hitting Slater with some luggage. Slater then grabbed a beer from the galley and fled the plane via the emergency exit chute.
“How many of us can honestly say we haven’t wanted to do the same thing? Steve is a working class hero!” one reader, Aaron Steele, commented on msnbc.com.
“Maybe not the best way to quit your job but hey, sometimes enough is enough,” said another, usa1967.
Workplace experts say that while most of us probably don’t have the chutzpah to do what Slater did, many have felt enough workplace stress to at least fantasize about telling everyone to take this job and shove it.
“I think that’s why we all secretly hold him up as a hero. I know he did the wrong thing and he even probably broke the law, but I get it,” said Tim Besse, co-founder of Glassdoor.com, a website that allows employees and employers to post anonymous information about their workplaces.
That’s especially true with airline travel, which is full of the kind of hassles and stress that can inspire rage and fury in even the most mild-mannered people.
In fact, many readers said an outburst such as Slater’s dramatic exit was inevitable given how flight attendants and other people in customer service are treated these days.
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“Can’t blame him for snapping. Unbelievable how rude people are — no apology for clocking him in the head with a bag? I’d snap too!” wrote VTPeach.
To some, it was the passenger who prompted Slater’s rant, rather than Slater himself, who was at fault.
“What about the passenger who refused to apologize? I would call him the real IDIOT!!!!” wrote whatever-2167628.
Besse, of Glassdoor.com, said companies often get high marks for valuing customer satisfaction. But that can turn into a negative if employees come to feel like they have taken the idea that the customer is always right too far, to the point that customers are treated better than employees.
“Steve Slater, who’d been doing this basically all his life, on this day in New York basically decided the customer wasn’t right,” Besse said.
Some may see Slater as a hero because they know they don’t have the luxury to speak out like that in their own lives. While Slater may have felt great after finally letting loose in such a public way, the fact is that most of us need our jobs more than we need that release. And most of us realize that such a dramatic move can carry heavy consequences, such as the felony charges that Slater is currently facing.
That’s especially true these days, with the unemployment rate hovering at 9.5 percent, nearly 15 million Americans looking for work, and many who are working being asked to do more work for the same or even less money.
“It’s about time workers start to flip out!” wrote one reader, Jimi-2167680.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the way Slater decided to handle his workplace frustration (including legal authorities, who are holding him on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing).
More than 40 percent of msnbc.com readers voting in an online poll called him a hero, but around 35 percent felt he was “just plain crazy.”
“Sounds like we are safer that he is now on the ground,” wrote Bruce-308647.
“Gotta love it. … Finally, a flight attendant standing up to a RUDE passenger. Seen it a million times. Could have handled it better, though!” wrote another, Da Llama-2167553.
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