broadsideblog

Steve Slater — Hero!

In behavior, business, travel on August 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm
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If there’s a popular hero right now, it’s Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who hit his last nerve, cursed at a plane full of passengers and fled, beer in hand.

My retail memoir has a chapter devoted to Customers From Hell. I always had a running list of the brutes, morons, divas and princesses who made our lives behind the cash-wrap toxic and wearying. It took a lot to make my top five, but there was — sadly — plenty of competition.

We live in a country where the rich see the rest of us as peons, weird little creatures scurrying beneath their feet. Outtamyway! The income inequality is growing while millions of others are losing their homes and jobs, with no idea how they will find a new job or home or pay their most basic bills.

I saw this princess-iness firsthand while selling T-shirts and ski jackets to the wealthy shoppers in my suburban area. Their sense of entitlement was relentless and anyone who dared oppose it does so at the risk of losing their job.

I was in a fabric store the other day and shared war stories with an employee there. We all have war stories! She is in her 60s, elegant, calm, helpful — and told me that a young woman who couldn’t find what she wanted (but could not even describe it) snapped her fingers at her. Then, still unable and unwilling to tell the associate what it was she looking for, complained to management that this employee was unhelpful.

If this behavior was occurring anywhere private, sharp words would be exchanged and the offending diva put neatly in his or her place. But, no, when it’s public, the worker has to suck it up and the offending party can safely revel in their temporary power.

Pathetic.

Slater faces criminal charges. His profanity offended many people. His reaction was intemperate.

But every single person working in a service job knows exactly how he felt.

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  1. I think if I’d been witness to his being brained by the uncooperative woman’s luggage, then seen his reaction, I might have given him a standing ovation as he slid to the tarmac. No one in a service position deserves to be walked all over. They’re people too.

  2. I think everyone who has ever worked a service job sees him as a hero. People behave so brutishly and get away with it, which makes them worse. Maybe, just maybe, this will make clearer how terrible that is.

  3. This may end up being a good career move for him. Assuming he doesn’t go to jail, or even if he does, he’ll probably get an agent, book deal and cameos in television shows or even his own reality tv show.

  4. War stories are exactly what they are! I’m young so I’ve just finished my first year in a service job, and boy is it tough, and not for the faint of heart. The truth is that we can’t all be Slaters, obviously, but he’s a good indication of the fact that those people we are scurrying beneath can only go so far before the s–t hits the fan.

  5. angryart, I did a retail job PT for two years — the subject of my forthcoming book — and there were customers whose behavior would leave you open-mouthed, as they did me. People who behave decently have no idea how rude others can be. It does burn you out, as it should.

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