90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Cabin Pressure and Public Anger

A JetBlue flight attendant is now the working man’s hero and social media sensation. We ask why.

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater leaves a correctional facility in the Bronx after posting bail, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010, in New York. (AP)

For about five minutes in the media maelstrom, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater was a straight-up bad boy mad man. The kooky in-flight crew member who unleashed on the P.A. system, grabbed a couple of beers, and bailed out down the emergency chute. 

Then things got a lot more complicated. Slater may be facing reckless endangerment charges, but online he’s become a kind of workingman’s hero. The one who wouldn’t take it anymore, and bailed in style. 

Is this just one more sign of boiling point blues in the American workplace?


Chris Rovzar, writer for New York Magazine who has been covering this story.

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at University of Minnesota, where she specializes in workplace issues. She’s author of “The Career Mystique: Cracks in the American Dream.”

Stanley Bing, business humorist and columnist who writes the back-page column for Fortune. He’s the author of numerous books, most recently Executricks: How to Retire While You’re Still Working.”


Hot temper in the service sector has been a buzzy online theme this week. Police in Toledo, Ohio released a video of an incident involving a McDonald’s drive-thru customer who flew into a rage because, apparently, there were no Chicken McNuggets available. The incident took place on New Year’s Day, 2010. Here’s what happened:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Ryan Campiz

    He was charged with wreckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

    Wreckless endangerment and criminal mischief?

    Who was endangered? How was this wreckless? What are some criteria for “mischievous”? Why is he so readily labeled with the opprobrium of criminal?

  • http://lizybee.wordpress.com Sweetman

    Good morning,
    I’ve been following this story with particular interest as it has sparked insightful debate. Regardless of who feels he’s right or wrong, there is a common thread that our society has become rude, rude, RUDE!
    My observation: employees who are stuck in the middle of edicts from above to increase productivity and cut costs appear to be cutting corners and behaving abruptly to customers, in this case, passengers who are already feeling dehumanized.
    The bottom line: there’s no excuse for rude behavior. What happened to our manners?
    I live this dilemma with alarming frequency as a med-surg nurse–with visitors!
    Terrific program, I hope it gives all of us a pause to reflect on our actions.

  • annie

    We all have a breaking point. Mr.Slater was obviously pushed past his limit. The bottom line is he reacted in a way that many of us can relate to. His exit,however,was truly spectacular! That is what makes this story so incredible.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Couple a lack of civility with a sense of entitlement and you have a flight attendant’s nightmare. No doubt there is more to this story than what’s been circulating around the net in the last few days and we should hear all sides before we make Slater a folk hero.

    I used to fly a lot and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every type of behavior possible from entitled passengers and pissed off crew at the end of long days of multi-segment flying. While there are some flight attendants who probably chose the wrong profession (they’re less than helpful) the majority of problems on planes are caused by passengers and these days, most of these problems have to do with boarding and baggage and following rules.

    People attempt to take too much big luggage on planes and struggle to stuff it in overheads. In a million miles of flying I’ve had my checked baggage go to the wrong city exactly twice (it was delivered later in the evening). Since bar coding luggage tags I’ve never had a bag get lost or mis-routed. I routinely check a bag and this makes boarding faster and easier. Passengers bringing too much luggage on the plane is the source of a lot of this and I hope rules are changed or tightened to filter out the idiots who bring huge bags on causing flight attendants to either confront them or attempt to help them stuff bags in bins.

    When the passenger initially had problems getting her bag in the bin and hit Slater with the door he probably should have pulled the bag off the plane and checked it and if the passenger went ballistic, pulled her too. He had the power to do that. I understand why he didn’t but there are times when passengers get too worked up and need to be pulled out, if nothing else for the sake of the other passengers and so the crew can do their jobs.

    I was on a flight to Miami once and as the plane was on final approach, long after everyone was supposed to be sitting down and buckled in (the attendants had already made their check) a passenger got up and opened the overhead bin to quickly take out a cell phone. I watched as one of the flight attendants asked the passenger to sit down while the other intercommed the pilot and the plane aborted the landing and went around again. Had the airport been Atlanta or Chicago we might have had to circle for a while to get a new place in line. Needless to say that passenger got some dirty looks when the plane landed.

    Maybe it’s time for another “Beer Summit” so Slater and the passenger can work it out. JetBlue is just quirky enough to hold it, hopefully not on a plane.

  • Steve V

    While its been I awhile since I’ve flown, I do recall at the check-in desk there was a “template” showing the maximum size of check-in luggage. If your bag didn’t fit in the “template” it had to be checked in. Now I hear about problems with oversize luggage being stuffed in overhead bins. Could someone with current flying experience explain what’s going on? Thanks.

  • michael

    What a waste of a show,

    of course people like to do something this guy did, but professionalism is key for our society to work. Someone cracking or acting like a fool should not be called a hero for it. Cops do this crap all the time(i’m stress so broke the law).

    “A JetBlue flight attendant is now the working man’s hero and social media sensation. We ask why.”

    Cause Americans are dumb and your feeding it.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Steve V: sometimes there’s an airline screener who will ask passengers to place their bags in a “template” before checking in but not always and frequent travelers check in online and go right to the gate with their carry on bags.

    Of course, not all planes have and same size bins and not all bags close to the exact same size each time (stuffing can inflate bags).

    The simple solution is to get bags out of the cabin. Frequent travelers will hate this as it costs them minutes (see Up in the Air) but it will solve at least one of the problems.

    There are also class issues embedded in this problem: some flying in first class or business feel they’ve paid for the right to be high maintenance and no doubt flight attendants have to absorb a lot of this. Couple that with the fact that airlines are struggling to stay in business and one of their important cash flows is people who fly frequently and buy more expensive seats and you have a recipe for at least a few of these people to get a sense of entitlement.

  • John

    Maybe the airlines need a fee to not have a flight attendant flip out.

  • Steve V

    Thanks Richard. Like so much of our society there are rules and laws that many people feel can be “stretched”. Like the “oversized” bag, the speed limit on our highways is a good example. How fast over the speed limit should we be “allowed” to drive before receiving a ticket? How “over the size limit” does luggage have to be before it must be checked? And on and on……..

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Even though I generally side with flight attendants and officer Crowley (of the Crowley/Gates episode) in situations like this, I’m guessing Slater wasn’t in the best of moods here and may have provoked a bit of this himself.

    I think we have to be extremely careful about making folks like Slater and Crowley folk heros even though it’s easy to do so given how rude entitled folks can be (some first class passengers and some Harvard professors). No doubt this incident isn’t the best one to become the “poster incident” for unruly passengers, unruly flight attendants, populist rage or anything besides the fact that it has become a drag to fly and that increases the social friction points in the cabin.

  • Sasha Drugikh

    I think his personal story, involving both parents becoming fatally ill, probably explains some of it. The nightmare of a passenger whom all of us have been trapped with on these discount airlines explains it further.

    I think he is indeed a hero. Everyone complaining about his lack of professionalism are feebly propping the nauseating world of Customer Service that only serves to stress the Servant to the breaking point. I don’t actually care to share with you how I am doing today, and would actually respect you more if I felt you weren’t reading off a script. Only George Clooney from “Up in the Air” would revel in such a demeaning and impersonal scene.

  • Sam Wilson

    If I were the flight attendant, I would have pursued every legal/professional channel available to ensure that not only the rude passenger is welcomed by FBI/Anti Terrorist and/or Airport Police but also all other passengers also learn that its not fair to be rude and play around the with rules.

    Remember the X’Mas Bomber also engaged in a similar activity as the plane was about to land.

    Just because its female passenger, there is no guarantee that there wont be any terrorist activity conducted by her.

    Dont get me wrong, I’m a frequent flier and I ensure every possible co-operation is extended from me to the authorities and the stewards/flight crew.

  • Mark

    This guy gave every working stiff like myself a moment. There are times when we all wish we could tell that person, grab a beer, and exit stage left. It points to the growing incivility at every level within our society (in government, on TV/Radio, in entertainment, sports, at the dinner table, and so on. Although I’m pro-Steve in this particular situation, it only adds fuel to the fire.

  • Paul

    This transcends the debate about professionalism. His actions epitomize the spirit and fantasy of rock & roll. Grabbing the beer was a perfect gesture of showmanship. That’s what makes it almost artistic.

  • Tom in DC

    I want to know who this woman was. Why isn’t her face and name posted all over the internet by now? She needs to face the fact that she is a bully and Slater stood up to bullies everywhere, whether corporate, customer, shoolyard, or whoever. We all know these people, they yell, scream, cuss, and steamroll their way through life. Why aren’t we talking about how each one of us should stand up to these everyday bullies?

  • http://www.electricdesigner.com Shawn

    What did this guy really do? Make him pay for the beer and whatever it costs to reset the slide. Does the passenger who gashed his head get charged with anything?

    Listen, I’ll be the first to say that the level service has gone way down in this country (think tech support); but customers have a responsibility to treat people like human beings…no matter what their job.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    Everyone is giving this guy a pat on the back for being an unprofessional idiot! He’s been working for the airlines for years and he knows the rules! I can’t believe how foolish our society is in thinking that he had the right to pull the shoot and leave. Why didn’t he leave out the door? He just wanted to take the dramatic approach and the public should not waste any time giving him the thumbs up! This was extremely foolish and when are we going to go by the rules? Are we saying in society that we shouldn’t follow the rules? Crazy!

  • Ren Knopf

    Did someone get this on video? I have flown with people like this in my almost 60 years of flying. During the past 10 years, flying has been on steep downward slope towards simply being an ordeal to be suffered through (do the seats on a 757 have to have less room than a 737?). The airlines, the TSA and the flying public ALL have responsibility in how we got here. Any improvement is up to all these parties. Ren Knopf

  • Isabel

    This man had a gash in his forehead. In addition to the pressure from the job, could a head injury have provoked this behavior?

  • Lynne Rosa

    Could he possibly have sustained a head injury which caused his behavior?

  • Tommy

    I’ve never had a bad experience on JetBlue. If anything, I think they’re the most courteous of all the airlines (which isn’t saying much for the other carriers). They offer free baggage check AND give free snacks and drinks.

  • Tom

    Yes, the work environment is horrible. They have no escape from a rude person. But teachers deal with this kind of verbal abuse from “certain” students every day. And they keep it together. I feel this guy dishonored his co-workers and his profession! He should be treated accordingly.

  • Steve

    Is there any neurological explanation that the blow to his head could have triggered the irrational behavior through the trip? Those suffering severe head trauma will sometimes react more severely to stress, but would that happen with just a small bump to the head?

    On the other hand, I was on a flight recently in which two flight attendants made snarky comments regarding another passenger’s cultural and religious practices. They were out of earshot of the passenger, but I heard the comments and was very offended.

    I think there is a general lack of professional behavior on the part of passengers, flight crews and staff.

  • Jess Kupiec

    Its about time that a working class American stands up for himself, we have been getting rolled over by our employers, our government, and big business for long enough. I would love to see this be a call to arms for the working class to stand up and say enough is enough. I have thought often about leaving my job and blowing off my duties and responsibilities too, but unfortunately I’m not in a position that I can. The working class needs more people like this, more people to show the country that we aren’t gonna take it anymore.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    He is not a hero! Does anyone know the true definition of a Hero? People… don’t be fooled! A hero is a person that saves a person from harm. Who did he save? I didn’t hear about Slater saving anyone so what makes him a hero? You people are sick!

  • http://www.simplyphysics.com Moriel NessAiver, Ph.D.

    Based on what I heard at the beginning of the show… could his behavior be related to having a concussion? Maybe his actions were ‘medical’ and temporary.

  • js

    TOM, DON’T MAKE WORKING THE SCAPEGOAT! It’s not the stressed worker. I can ask the most stressed out worker something in the nicest manner possible and I will get a civil reply. It’s the rudeness of people EVERYWHERE! Loud cell phone talking, not waiting your turn in line, traffic bringing out the worst in all, etc, is what is making coexisting with fellow individuals unbearable. People snap because of this accumulation, not because of work.

  • Patricia Martin

    I wonder if Steven had injury to his frontal lobe and judgment center? It may have been a more serious concussion and injury than it appeared to be.

  • Andy

    These events are just a symptom from our world being over crowded. Just like rats, when we are pressed into living too close together, using too many resources, leaving too few to share, we turn on each other. THis problem will not be solved until we reduce the world population.

  • Rick Evans

    Tom, 182000 lemmings following a top blowing Pied Piper do not make a hero. I imagine Snooki has a similar number of fans. Is that a reason to admire someone?

  • http://eurodesignmk.com Stefan Djordjevic (george-ah-vich)

    He reminds me of george costanza when he was trying to get fired in the most spectacular fashion. maybe he wasent cornered into doing this…maybe he was waiting to do this!

  • Rick Evans

    Ryan Campiz asked — “Who was endangered? How was this wreckless?” — An opening emergency slide could injure or kill an unsuspecting member of the ground crew.

  • Chris

    I think we have a general attitude of entitlement in America. I am constantly amazed at the rude behavior exhibited in society by all sorts of people. Why do we think we are better than others and allowed to abuse those around us? I am talking about both customers and service workers, fellow drivers and fliers, even the local person on the street. We are RUDE, RUDE, RUDE to each other. Common civility is out the window and it is really no surprise considering that reality TV promotes people showcasing the lowest of low behavior. We are all a bunch of bullies!

  • Amanda

    I have worked as a waitress for thirteen years and I completely understand the impulse to tell off a rude or unruly customer! Often times people treat those in the service industry with a degree of dismissive contempt. However, my personal philosophy is that you just have to brush it off and keep going. Sure, I think all sorts of things in my head when people are rude to me. But, there are so many other people that make your work experience worthwhile. You have to focus on the good experiences and try not to let the bad ones turn you into a resentful, cynical person.

  • Elizabeth Frazey

    this guy was injured in the head at the beginning of the flight. has he been checked to ensure that he doesn’t have a brain injury?

    No one has said if this was out of character.. but it sounds like a friend of mine that had a concussion from a minor traffic accident and we didn’t know until we all realized how strangely he was acting.

  • http://www.electricdesigner.com shawn

    We have become too self-centered; people feel they deserve things they don’t deserve. The attendant should be admonished/fined for lack of self-control and beer theft; and the customer should be admonished/fined for aggrivated assault. Blame advertising, blame Obama, blame congress, blame the media… or try blaming yourself and look in the mirror and try to change the a-hole that thinks they are better than everyone else.

  • http://onpoint...angerinthecabin Evonne

    To what extent is this situation a reflection of the generalized anger we see that is pervasive throughout our society today? Whether it’s the bailout, illegal immigration, or generalized ineptitude on someone’s part, everyone seems to have some anger they feel completely vindicated in sharing with anyone else. I find difficult, as a mother of 4 small children, to teach civility and social responsibility, when everywhere they look (tv, radio, internet), tehy are confronted with “adults behaving badly.”

  • http://space.mit.edu/~kcooksey Kathy Cooksey

    When I fly, which is fairly often, I try to be in “Zen mode,” meaning that I work to be extra patient. When my temper or frustration flares because of a person or part of the long flying procedure, I try to rationalize why “this” is happening from the “Other’s” perspective. For example, “this” may be that the person in front of me at the TSA checkpoint is taking so long, but it’s because they haven’t flown recently and don’t know about the details (remove shoes, bag 3oz bottles, remove laptop/camcorder/CPAP, etc). I’m not a saint by any means, but my “Zen mode” helps me deal with this fairly crowded world where one person only has power over herself. (Another occasion when trying to imagine the “Other’s” point-of-view is useful, is driving, by the way.)

  • Mark

    I appreciate the comment by the recent caller who said that she is in the customer service industry because she likes people and enjoys making people more comfortable. I recently had a confrontation with a UPS delivery man who was overtly frustrated that it took me a bit to make it down three flights to retrieve the package. He rang the bell at least 10 times in rapid succession and then snapped at me to “just answer the door already!” Isn’t waiting for someone to answer the door part of the job?! In my view, if you don’t like people, find a job outside the service industry. That’s not to say that people aren’t more rude today than before. I believe it’s true, but workers need to understand that these are challenges, and when they’re getting a paycheck they should bring dignity to their position and diffuse the situation rather than contribute to the frustration.

  • Frederick

    I’m a former flight attendant who, after reaching the same level as this guy, also quit my job. Wish I had thought to grab a beer… but anyway, I’m not sure if this has been addressed at any level… but my biggest concern when I first heard this story was that those emergency slides can kill people. If you are standing outside that door when the emergency slide is deployed, perhaps on a jetway or a provisioning truck, the slide deploys at very high speed, and they aren’t as soft as they look. People have died this way (at least they told us that in flight attendant training). Before we go calling this guy a hero, let’s call it what it is; a guy who lost it and could easily have hurt a lot of people, just by indulging his own self-centered career-suicide fantasy. As flight attendants, we all fantasized about this kind of thing from time to time… but it’s NOT acceptable behavior in real life. He deserves wreckless endangerment at LEAST.

  • Steven Alexander

    The only difference between the actions of Steven Slater and the man who killed 9 in Connecticut was having a gun. The only hero in this is TSA who kept a gun or other weapon out of the mix.

    Both are victims of todays job market, both had too much and both lashed out at those around them violently. Is this what our society has decided as the correct way to solve work place?


  • Ursula L

    Given that this flight attended was injured at the beginning of the flight, I’m wondering why he wasn’t taken off the flight and given medical care promptly. Having a blow to the head bad enough to leave a gash, and being expected to continue your work, untreated, strikes me as dangerous.

    Also, erratic behavior after a blow to the head could easily be the sign of a more serious injury. If you’re injured on the job, you shouldn’t be loosing your job and facing legal punishment for the symptoms of the injury.

    This situation says a lot about the state of workplace safety.

    When someone is injured on the job, they should receive medical care, not be expected to continue working.

  • Terry Harris

    I used to fly much more than I do now. I’ve been able to mostly avoid it the last couple of years. I started flying in the 1970s. I miss the old days. It seemed like the passingers were more professional then.

    I’ve seen many rude passingers. A few years ago I saw a road warrior with a large folding suit bag not be able to find space near his seat He just took someone else’s bag out of a bin and throw it on the floor. More recently I was on a flight that couldn’t close the door because of an unrully child. The kid was apre-schooler and he wouldn’t sit down. We had to sit there and wait while his parents negotiated with him. I was thinking of suggesting that the kid and his parents be bumped off the flight.

  • Peter

    Remember UNIONS, folks? I’ve belonged to two in my life, and let’s not ignore the purpose they serve in defusing worker complaints, negotiating disputes and generally giving employees a sense of empowerment.

  • john

    I have worked in service industry before and understand how frustrating rude and disrepectful customers can be in a given situation, I have also experienced quite often rude flight attendants on a power trip knowing you are in a position to not react due to the nature of being on a plane.

  • Dana Franchitto

    I thought it was rather condescending of SDtanley Bing, a writer from Fortune Magazine to play down the stress those of us who are lucky enough to be working about how despite the “rotten stuff everything’s fine”. He represents the highest levels of corporate ownership and could care less about working people as any more than warm bodies. I would like to have heard a rep. from Mr. Slater’s Union speak on this.
    Footnote: I wish Tom would stop throwing the word “hero” around. The hero narrative has no place in a healthy democracy

  • joe

    Phyllis and Tom,

    DON’T LET WORK BE THE SCAPEGOAT! This has nothing to do with stressed workers, it has to do with rude people. Chris on this post is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! I ride the train and want to tell people off all the time. I don’t work for the transportation dept, but there are days I can’t take my fellow passengers. Yelling on a cell phone, cutting in line to get the best seat, rude driving to exit the lot has nothing to do with work. Everyone else went to work that day too.

  • Keith Gabryelski

    This is not about whether getting cursed at was part of his job, or part of any service oriented job.

    Getting cursed at and dealing with rude people is part of life’s job. He failed at that.

    Service jobs deal with a large number of different people every day. Cheers to the millions of them that stay calm and cool under pressure and make our lives better.

    This guy is just a jerk.

  • Mary Trerice

    Has there been discussion of his state of health? A bash to the head can cause a concussion without loss of consciousness. This could exacerbate roiling frustrations, etc.

  • Mari

    “Why aren’t we talking about how each one of us should stand up to these everyday bullies?”-Posted by Tom in DC

    Good question. When I worked at a grocery store chain, I came in contact with some really nasty people everyday. Hundreds of ‘em. I handled their rudeness by smiling silently and avoiding eye-contact until they had gone.

    But, some folks saw THAT as offensive treatment, too.
    This was how that job ended: One day, an elderly woman was waiting to check out her order as I waited on the person in line ahead of her, first.
    She grumbled rather loudly that the service at that store was horrible. The woman I was serving remarked that, “some people just can’t be satisfied” and I said, “People just aren’t getting any nicer, are they?” Well, the angry elderly lady went ballistic when she heard that.

    “How dare you say that!”, she yelled. “My husband is on oxygen, he has a heart condition and the nurses who take care of him are very nice! YOU are rude! I am going to report you to the manager!” The lady who was ahead of her grimaced at me and left. The other people in line moved away from the angry woman and looked at me as if I had hit her or something. I said, “I’m sorry ma’am. The manager’s office is right over there.” I pointed her in the right direction and carefully checked out her groceries.

    Sure enough, she reported me and I was called into the boss’s office to explain myself. I did, but that was not enough. The boss sent me home without pay and told me to come back the next day with a written explanation of how I could improve my customer service skills. I could not think of any ways to do that and was summarily let go. Been out of work ever since.

    So, the moral of this story is: The best service is sometimes a customer’s worst nightmare. That’s NOT what they’re looking for. They are spoiling for a fight and will pick on a “lower” person to dump all their problems and gripes upon. They cannot be pleased
    by anybody, sometimes, and will destroy your livelihood if they can. It’s the American way.

  • Wilma

    The passengers on flights are frequently aggressive, rude, and eager to hurry up and wait. I can’t imagine what it would be like to endure 20 years of this.

    The flourish of grabbing the beer and ejecting the chute raised this from a garden variety work place freakout to performance art.

  • Patty

    Does working in the customer service industry mean you’re required to put up with inhumane treatment? I’m sick of “the customer is always right” mentality that doesn’t carry the same meaning that it did in the past. I hope this incident will open peoples eyes and mouths to unacceptable rude behavior.

  • Bill Lowe

    The revised story describes someone who suffered a head injury at the beginning of the flight, then acted inappropriately and (apparently) atypically thereafter. Perhaps he was concussed and his behavior was simply medical in origin.

  • Wendy patunoff

    Has any one addressed the impact of his head injury on his behavior. I once witnessed a lack of impulse control from a friend after a fender bender where my freind bumped his head. We went on a cursing tyrade. Not an excuse, but perhaps another factor.

  • http://space.mit.edu/~kcooksey Kathy Cooksey

    I have an addendum to my “Zen mode” comment. Just that the reason I try to rationalize why someone else has done something that aggravates me is that: I must often do something that aggravates other people just out of pure ignorance. I hope they would see that I’m not intentionally being annoying.

  • Wish

    I disagree with one of your panalist, I don’t think there are bad jobs I think management of which I have been, set the tone for the work place. I have had what most would say are not so admiralable jobs but have made the best of it. Rude and cynical seem to be the feeding frenzy for this age.

  • jeannie

    This is most definitely NOT a waste of a show – folks are rude everywhere, I agree with the caller.

    Tailgaters, a dangerous form of rude jerk, cell phones in inappropriate places, the list is endless. There’s NO excuse for it, and rude people should be punished, but they won’t be. I used to love people, but now don’t look forward to aging around such entitled rude people, and it makes me not care about them any more…

  • Bruce Davidsmeyer

    Over the last 30 years I have supervised several employees involved in customer service. I witnessed several times when my employees were rudely treated by customers. Whenever this became abusive or out of line, I would call the client and express my displeasure with they way they treated my staff. The behavior ceased and apologies were given after my call. We must stand up for our employees when they are mistreated.

  • Paul

    I don’t think he’s a hero. But I appreciate that he was in a customer service position and he expressed himself. One of the saddest things about this corporate world is that you can never speak to a customer service person without them talking through a script. It’s dehumanizing to them and makes life a lot more boring. Why does my cell phone companies representative in India have to call himself ‘Chip’? We both know that’s not his name. Why does the customer service representative have to read a script that asks me how my day is today? I’d rather hear what he would actually say to me.

    I feel like corporate culture has created a bunch of Stepford helpers, but inside we have human beings who are going to freak out. This guy just did it exceptionally well.

  • w bradford

    I think this guy should be hauled into court
    and hammered with a $25 fine and a good 10 hours
    of community service. It’d also be nice if
    the airline recognized that his passenger
    sensitivities could be used in some other position.

  • Bob Lucas

    Barring a phisological cause for the misbehaviour many things cross my mind:
    1) if flight personnel carried guns . . .
    2) will Going Jet Blue replace Going Postal
    3) comment suggesting tenure of 20 yrs earned him the right – I taught high school for 37 yrs, did I earn the right to abuse ( students, administrators, parents )and not do my job
    3a)experience should make a person more able to cope
    4) its ok to be a drunk driver until you kill someone
    5) Manchester, CT

    thank you

    btw – a video in the waiting areas on how to place your luggage in the overhead bins, respected everyone’s right to some space, might help a little

  • http://robingtaft@gmail.com robin gordon taft

    Is the general decrease in common courtesy due to the fact that there atre just too many of us? It reminds me of the experiments that were done in the 60′s with overcrowding rats and the bad behaviors they then displayed. And since we don’t go to church anymore, we don’t receive the message to “love your neighbor” either. I think we are in some trouble …I see no end to this.

  • jeannie

    Oh, but I want to add, I always give folks the benefit of the doubt and find that if you are nice, cordial, to people you interact with they will almost always be nice back! Except tailgaters, a very special bunch of nasty people – they just make me slow down…

  • Ed Ungar

    What about the person who slammed the overhead compartment cover on Slater’s head. Shouldn’t she be charged or has she.

  • Gretchen

    The guy gets hit on the head and begins to act very strangely — he needs an MRI! Isn’t this why football has finally been forced to take head injuries seriously?

  • Susan

    On the topic of rudeness and censure: why isn’t the woman who slammed the overhead compartment on Steven’s forehead being prosecuted? He ought to sue her, at least. Why do rude people continue to get away with their behavior these days? I consider the passenger’s actions assault. Also, no one seems to consider the effect of a gash injury on the flight attendant’s behavior.

  • http://ashleyholzwasser.blogspot.com Ashley

    I fully understand the frustration of constant customer abuse. The Whole Foods Market where I work attracts a circus of extremely difficult people. On a daily basis I endure disrespect, ridiculous expectation, and insult to my IQ. I feel the pain, and would love to tell off every customer who has ever wronged me. The best I can do (and what I often have to do) is turn my back. I need to keep job, and no matter how much I dream of it I cannot lash out. It stoops to their level.

  • jeannie

    @ robin – YES! You’re right on the money!

  • Martha

    I recently read in the book “In Praise of Slowness” that people are now expecting others to respond as quickly as a computer. But, we cannot because we are human, and we need to think about responses. I think this makes people impatient and then they react. I don’t think we realize this is happening, and if we did, we could cut others some slack and not get so irritated. Also, manners take time, and people are just in too much of a hurry.

  • Tim

    I used to work for a large retail company that had a motto “The customer is always right even when you damn well know he is wrong” . It’s this type of attitude that places profits over human decency and respect that breeds rude often unreasonable behavior from customers. The bigger the jerk you are the more you will be rewarded.

  • Colleen Belloise

    There’s a lot of comments about the attendant but what about the rude passenger who started it all? If he smacked her in the head hard enough to make her bleed he would be charged with assault. Let’s do something about rude people whether in planes, lines or restaurants. Hold them accountable!

  • http://www.weareONECHURCH.com Jim Moynihan

    Hi Tom,

    The next time I fly I will be concerned about whether the flight attendants will go ballistic “while” in flight. I fear they will pull the “ripcord” at 30,000 feet.

    I need the airlines, the regulatory agencies and the public in general to assure me this behavior is being found out early and those with these tnedencies WILL NOT be on my flight.


  • Tom

    Let’s face it travelling is not enjoyable anymore, it is a down right awful experience since 9/11, will it ever get better?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, the actions of this flight attendant were unprofessional, irresponsible and hazardous — he is no hero of his industry. If you want to look for a hero in this industry, why not look for those flight attendants that manage passengers at the upmost professional level no matter how rude the passengers are.

    Now, in relationship to JetBlue — I would never flight with them, I did it once and while I had no issues with their flight attendant, their gate attendant person in Miami was the most rude and awful person I encounter in my life. Could this be just a behavioral trend with JetBlue folks?


  • Mike Maginn

    Crazy idea: Jet Blue should hire back Steve as a consultant to figure out how to lighten the stress load. He can be a rallying point to solve what appears to be an acknowledged problem.

    Love your show.

  • http://challenginglachesis.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    It’s hard to motivate yourself when you don’t see your career path leading anywhere. When you don’t see any value coming back to you from your efforts, you lose your inspiration to work. The fact that he did something humorously extravagant should be applauded. Yes, if it had been a violently extravagant reaction, we would all be horrified, but he really didn’t hurt anyone, and he made a statement that a lot of people felt needed to be made.

  • brian morrison

    it’s often said that the country is moving towards a ‘service’ based economy. more often than not this leads to idea that the employees of the places we shop are in some way our servants.

    there is a certain percentage of customers of any business that unload their pent up frustrations on the employees they encounter because they know that those employees, by and large, HAVE to take it, or face disciplinary actions after the fact.

  • colm rogers

    I had to pull off the highway to type this. I’ve been screaming at the radio for about the last 40 mins. To have this discussion about employee fustration is ok, but to have this guy as any part of the foundation of the show is a joke. Tom asks why does he have 180000 fans on facebook … Its because they don’t know the facts. That’s a media problem and another show. What if this guy was drunk, on medication? What if he got hit with the bin because he wasn’t aware of his surroundings. What if he was stopped by a supervisor before he got on the plane .. He’d be another drunk coming to work.

  • Elaine

    Am I missing something?
    Given the brevity of an attendants job how can we trust that they will act appropriately in potential dangerous situations on an airplane when passengers may say or do inappropriate things out of fear. I assume they are trained to de-escalate behavior like this. If we can not rely on the attendants to behave in a calm and appropriate manner I begin to fear what might happen in a serious incident in flight. This man’s behavior was totally inappropriate and can have far reaching consequences for behavior of passengers and attendants in the not so friendly skies in the future. We should not condone or excuse this behavior..

  • Matt

    The guy who jumped out of the plane with the money was D. B. Cooper!

  • Renee

    I think that technology has much to do workforce anger. When the technology becomes streamlined and management begin to focus on numbers more than people, the workers feel devalued and stressed. However efficient technology can make some aspects of work, it will never replace management taking the time and money to train the right individual to do the job well. where I work we all have handheld computers that tell us our every move, and I see an increasing trend in hiring any Joe off of the street who would be otherwise incapable of making good decisions and who is ill suited for the environment. Working with poorly trained newbies who are handed off to computer to learn the job is an additional stress as well.

  • http://wbur janet johnson

    Flight attendants, in particular, have been havng a rough go. 9/11 changed everything. They have endured continuous staff cuts, pay cuts, benefit cuts. Meanwhile, the airlines are mistreating the passengers too, and they get cra

  • gemli

    There are two issues here. One is about an unhappy, stressed employee who flew off the handle. This would not normally be notable, and wouldn’t engender thousands of positive responses, except for point two:

    Air travel is the most miserable way to go. The flights are overcrowded, the costs are high, customers are feeling milked for money to check baggage, and airlines routinely have late flights and think nothing about trapping people on the tarmac for hours. That’s what is powering the Facebook response. People are fed up with the abuse, and can relate to Slater’s response.

  • Joseph Ratner M D

    I am Chief of Psychiatry at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn Mass. I take care of brain injury patients, and I am wondering if part of the issue here is that the flight attendant had a mild concussion in response to his head injury. This might explain, in part, his disinhibited behavior and lessened control over his aggressive feelings. Interesting to see this as perhaps the canary in the mine, in terms of the large numbers of our service men and women who are returning from Iraq and Afganistan with head injuries.

  • mike

    Let’s tie together 3 important underlying reasons. Because we are the only one of the top 25 industrializes nations that does not offer Universal Health Care to it’s Citizens, companies operating in America have much higher expenses because of the Health Care Benefits they. So, they cannot compete against companies in other countries and are forced to cut costs. To do this, the highly paid high level management of American companies take some time off from playing golf all day to have a meeting at the country club, because they are not really sure where the company offices are or what the company does. At this meeting they decide to let go of large numbers of the hard working people that actually keep the company running. We are returning to Medieval Europe where these Lords and Ladies live in the lap of luxury, while the common man is fighting ober scraps of bread. Think about it.

  • Laurey

    It appears that this behavior was not consistent with past behavior- recent passengers have commented that he was polite and helpful and he had won an award from JetBlue. Could the bump on the head played a role in this out of character behavior? It was hard enough to cause a gash and even the adrenaline from an injury can change behavior.

  • Nick B.

    Jeebus, that woman got off light. If she slammed an overhead compartment on my head and didn’t apologize she’d get a lot worse than cussed out on the intercom.

  • Joe Rioux

    That hijacker’s name was D. B. Cooper.
    Always enjoy the show.


  • Aimee Miller

    I am an employee and a lot of the anger is justified. But the thing is is that when a customer pays, they get a sense of “hey I paid and so I get to do whatever I want.” It’s horrible.

    I’ve been in the food industry for years and I have to say it is this sense of selfishness and unawareness of their actions. Especially in the food industry I have seen some pretty nasty reactions to customer who come in with attitude and treating the employees beneath them. But people forget, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

    People out there don’t realize that their actions affect others and when they go into a restaurant, you never know what you’re going to end up eating. Seriously.

    Most of the time, employees do not “retaliate” to customer abuse because they really don’t want to loose their job.

    What this guy did was really unprofessional. It was shameful. Yes, most customers nowadays are horrible. They’re selfish and look down on us and treat us like idiots. I hate it. But I need my job. I need the cash flow. I do my best to make every person smile.

    It’s called customer service for a reason. We are there to tend to the customer’s needs WITHIN reason. That’s where the fuzzy greyness that comes in.

    What he did may be a good wake up call for America, since America’s society in itself is selfish, but he is in no way a hero. There is no reason to give this man an ego boost.

    And the whole lashing out issue, is just this embedded hatred and anger within our society. It’s saddening. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” Everything we should be taught as children we aren’t anymore.

    I may be only 22, I’ve been working since I was 14, but I have to tell you, I believe that everyone should work sometime in customer service. From it I believe that people will realize just how exactly their actions affect others.

    Right now you have people who aren’t in the industries shaking their heads and not understanding. That’s the problem!

  • Jenny

    I certainly don’t think he just be punished so severely, no one was hurt and ultimately put no one in danger. My question is about his state of mind prior to the out burst. Why did no one in his company see his distress and suggest medical leave??? So my issue is the lack of support within the workforce today of employees general happiness and well-being. If someone needs some time off to deal with family, health or whatever they need the respect to be given this break…and get paid at the same time. No one should have to make the choice of taking time off to get well but taking an economical hit or keep working and hitting the breaking point.

  • Thomas

    The lady on your program at 10:50am on Thursday Aug 12 is in la la land. She wants to tell employers what to do in a market that is high in applicants and low in good paying jobs. She needs to grow up along with anyone that does not appreciate having a job in today’s economy. The willingness to do more for the same or less is how you achieve job security no matter how many times you have to pick yourself up and apply for the next job or create one if the economy does away with your current employer or market.

  • Karen

    Phyllis Moen is really getting at the heart of the problem. Flight Attendents are llike many of us, they have to deal with the direct problems without any of the control. Corporate America is in trouble because the younger generation sees what is happening and they are taking care of themselves-not the corporation!

    Tom, this would be a great topic for another show. Ms Moen would be a great guest for this topic.

  • Anne


    Regarding the service industry and tipping, I find that a lot of people don’t realize what a tip-wage is and how taxes work with a tip-wage. A tip-wage means that you are not paid the minimum wage hourly, you are paid with the understanding that your main income will be from tips. If someone does not tip, a server still pays taxes as though they received that income.

    As a server for 4 years in college, I was paid $2.60 an hour. This rarely covered the taxes I had to pay, so most nights, I paid my restaurant.

    Just something to consider the next time you think about being cheap.

  • Susan

    Most comments seem to be focusing on the airlines, but I can’t help thinking that how long can you tell people that they do not count, before they begin to act like their actions have no impact?

    I remember being told by a teacher, back in the 60′s, about how lucky my generation was. With computers and technology, we would have a 4 day work week, and all share in the fruits of not only our labors, but those of our parents and grandparents. Instead, from the mid-80′s onwards, no matter how hard you work, how much you learn or how many hours you put in, you are often told that you are not doing enough, and are easily replaceable.

  • BAS

    ‘people are getting more angry’.

    Can’t help but wonder if every aspect of culture being SO commodified now isn’t part of this. Corporate boiler plates oversee us as numbers and dollars /employees and customers and are not of a human scale. We don’t really even aspire to golden rule baselines in service and behaviour; it is all about market pressure and product and ‘stuff’ so the erosion of human awareness begats more erosion.

    Also agree w/ Martha re speed of computer relations bringing impatience w/it.

  • Harry Atwood

    A cousin (flight attendant for American) told me a story about a colleague who put a rude passenger in his place.
    Towards the end of a long overnight flight, the lights in the cabin were turned on for the breakfast service. The irate passenger stood up and said, “Turn off the ‘f’-ing lights.” The stewardess replied. “Sir these are the breakfast lights. The ‘f’-ing lights have been on all night.”

  • Emily

    Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? If we criticise the passenger for being rude, then glorify the attendant for being rude back, what kind of a message is being sent? I surely think there should be a way for attendants to submit complaints and feel resolution, but the best way to deal with rudeness is not to give it right back. Kindness goes a long way, and the only way to change the state of the world is to treat others nicely. I witnessed a stewardess do this with humor as a man snapped his fingers at her. She informed him that that gesture was a rude way of calling her over and that she would respond to “Excuse me, Miss”, etc. He was embarassed, but it sent the message that was needed. She demanded respect, but didn’t need to yell.

  • Aimee Miller

    I forgot one other thing: If everyone decides to act out against bad customers, do you realize who much business you would lose?! It’s a matter of understanding the industry you are in! Who ever it was who said that we should act out every time a “bully” acts out is making themselves look like an idiot. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement any business can get. People trust what their friends say. You loose one customer, you can bet that it was really about 20.

    I’m a culinary major and business is something I must learn. And I can tell you that for every business, it doesn’t matter what kind of customer is there, you better make them happy and make them come back.

    That’s from the business side.

    Now if our society would grow up and realize what rude jerks they’ve all become, then yes, life would be better. But it has to start from a young age! Lashing out at bullies is no better then the initial attack by the bully. Stop with all the anger! That’s a HUGE problem!

  • BHA

    If his behavior after being hit in the head was way off his ‘norm’, I wonder if the rest of the flight crew:
    1) Noticed
    2) Tried to help with that

    If he was suffering a concussion and clearly ‘not himself’, the ONLY proper thing would be for him to be seated for the rest of the flight and the captain could have ordered that action.

  • http://www.askrachelcomic.com JoshM.

    I was disappointed that the woman panelist (whose name I didn’t catch) spoke, toward the end of the program, about the frustration among workers today that job performance is no real guarantee of fair compensation — then she amended the statement to suggest that tips still are tied to job performance. That’s incredibly naive. More often than not, tips are arbitrary and have more to do with the customer’s general disposition than anything the employee has any control over.

    Also, to the caller who complained that service workers act as though they’re doing her a favor “instead of the other way around” — she should realize that they _are_ doing her a favor, as much as she is doing them a favor. They are providing her with the convenience of not having to grow her own food, make her own clothes, etc. And she is able to pay far less for these services than (I suspect) she would feel her own time and labor are worth. Customers and employees both need to recognize that each owes a great deal to the other, and treat each other accordingly.

  • Catherine Sengel

    When we talk about unemployment number, we fail to factor in the rise of the “salaried” employee as part of the cause. More workers are now on salary, meaning they are expected to work 10s of hours beyond the 40-hour week without overtime pay. Many are doing the jobs of two or three former employees without any additional compensation. Without the legal salary umbrella that negates the hour structure to the work week, many more people would be employed.

    The common practice also shows lack of respect for the labor force and the individual. Working a 50 and 60-hour week for a salary calculated on a 35-hour base adds financial, emotional and physical stress. It’s time we forced companies to compensate on a realistic basis. When executives earn millions for meeting deliverables produced by an underpaid workforce, the labor pool comes out on the low end of profits. We legislated a 40-hour work week and call it progress. We need to take another look at the way the system overrides the mandate.

  • Heidi Willis

    I’ve heard lots about Steven,the flight attendant,but
    nothing about the passenger/s involved. What was their reaction? Any apologies or taking responsibility for this incident? More than one person was involved in this incident!!

  • ThresherK

    I greatly appreciate Slater’s position of having to be the public face of every bad decision and screwup that JetBlue and the entire airline industry (and TSA, etc) made that week, to a flying public with little predictable sense of decorum. This is a feature, not a bug, of the corporate model. “The customer is always right” crap has no end.

    The only difference between the actions of Steven Slater and the man who killed 9 in Connecticut was having a gun. The only hero in this is TSA who kept a gun or other weapon out of the mix.

    Really? Did Slater say “Wait here until I get my gun, and then you’ll be sorry”?

    I’m a native Nutmegger. That story of the man who killed 9 coworkers is very different. IIRC, that guy was fired for stealing beer from the beer distributorship at which he worked. It is not known what, if any, contact performing his job meant interfacing with members of the public.

    PS Nobody is concerned about how 50 cops went after Slater? Overkill much?

    PPS That woman who assaulted him–how many cops took her into custody?

  • Frequent Flyer

    Steve V,

    What is going on is that it now costs to check bags. It’s really a catch 22 situation. Airline employees HAVE to enforce the rules, can almost never waive the fees (unless it’s military) and passengers are frustrated.

    The flight crew has often had to deal with pay and benefit cuts and they are told very firmly they MUST enforce the rules… or else.

    Imagine: A pissed off customer who doesn’t want to pay bag fees but who will stuff the bag over the limit and the bag doesn’t fit in the model. The gate agent telling the passenger if they don’t re-arrange to the point the bag fits, they’ll have to be gate check. All hell breaks loose! The customer is angry and goes off on the agent (it happens all the time) and the other customers are held up and having to wait (all while trying to board the plane), most times they are told to gate check. Since so many people are doing this to avoid the fees they are also now being told they’ll have to pay the $25 to gate check.

    Just a mess all around! The attendants don’t want to have to deal with the constant belittling and anger but they’re not the ones who make up the rules! If they don’t enforce them they can loose their jobs!

    Catch 22!

  • http://WBUROnPoint Dodie

    I’m sorry you couldn’t put me on the air. I will be 80 this month and was a flight attendant (stewardess then) for UAL for five years in the early 1950s. Yes, it was considered glamorous then, if you had the requirements. Yet it’s not easy to keep up your appearance, your smile, your courtesy, and along with one other attendant collect coats, offer pillows, set up 70 meals, and serve breakfast or lunch or dinner to 70 passengers plus crew–offer more coffee, pickup trays, clean galley, and hand out coats in possibly only 2 hours. But we did it and in high heals with a hat on–and could not forget that we were there for the passengers safety, above all.
    BUT, to the point of this discussion, we handled drunks (often), received verbal abuse–even when we made emergency landings due to weather conditions–outrageous demands of all sorts, many, many of them at that time from public figures–film stars, politicians, and the like. You can use any excuses or reasoning to sight that these are worse times than ever. I don’t agree. There was and will always be rude, foolish “consumers” and rude, foolish employees in Customer Service jobs.
    When I now fly, I am embarrassed at what I see and hear from the flight attendants. They seem to have little appearance requirements and are allowed to just read & chat with each other when they have no duty–as though chatting with passengers would diminish their “concern over safety.” The passengers are little better-they behave greedily over luggage space, dress like cartoons, and act thoughtlessly concerning fellow travelers.
    We seem to be regressing as a society by exhibiting more and more immature behavior and the media (so easy to blame it for everything) unfortunately picks up a story like this, and we end up practically canonizing someone who displays foolish behavior. As to this particular job, possibly 20 years is much too long to maintain courtesy. I wonder if, 60 years ago, the media would even have accepted to run a story about how a famous actress took her maid into a lavatory to do her hair on landing!–leaving her young son in no one’s care. Unfortunately, the pilots were busy landing the plane and couldn’t persuade the actress to behave, as I tried to. Of course, after landing, the pilots were oh so ga-ga over the actress who could have been injured and then would sue the airlines & crew.
    Enough from me. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Thank you for allowing this venting.

  • http://onpointradio.org Linde Couch (“Linda”)

    One issue no one mentioned is: did not a single passenger offer to help Steven Slater treat/bandage his injury, or offer some calming support?
    Which begs the question: assuming that the passengers represented a cross-section of society, have we fellow human beings lost our humanity??

  • jeffe

    Steven Alexander before you make assumptions about people you should do a little due-diligence. Omar Thornton, the man who killed 9 innocent people in Manchester, Connecticut was caught stealing cases of beer and reselling them. When he committed the crime he was being fired for stealing. That’s not the same thing as what Mr. Slater did here. As far as Mr. Slater goes, well he acted very unprofessionally and broke some Federal laws.
    However I can see how one can just reach the end of ones rope and snap. At least he did with some flare.

    From what I understand Slater looked to see if the area was clear before he opened the slide.

  • Brianne

    Go Steven!

    Anyone who works or has worked in the service industry can relate. Everyone in any faction believes they are right you are wrong, they know it all and you know very little, and are never satisfied until every impossible need of theirs is met. I trully feel for anyone in the service industry. How hard to earn $6 an hour with no benefits what-so-ever and have to deal with complete morons day in and day out with no appreciation.

    But a larger point would be that flight attendants main job is to save your life incase of an emergency, not serve you cocktails and try to explain that when your luggage is too big to put in the overhead you are risking peoples lives because you don’t want to pay $20 to check your bags.

    I wish I had an inflatable slide at work.

  • sam

    Over 15 years of traveling to and fro from San Francisco, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing.

    The mainland China passengers are more civil now than before and the steward (esse)s are always very pleasant. Maybe it is because I travel either Singapore Air or Cathay Pacific.

    Furthermore airport security (Homeland Security) and customs ought to learn security and procedure from the HK airport.

  • jean

    Gash on the forehead. OK. Is the passenger being charged with assault?

    And about that overhead compartment squabble – let’s see some consistancy and some enforcement in carry-on standards. I’ve seen people try to put luggage into that compartment that could house a family of four because they didn’t want to pay an extra fee. I’ve seen people try to stow their luggage way up front when their seats were further back, so they could race to it and get off the plane 30 seconds earlier.

    Let’s have standard sized, ENFORCED, and standard assigned spaces.

  • Rachel

    It does seem lack of control is a large part of the problem. Yes sometimes you have to suck it up, but should anyone be subjected to physical or verbal abuse and then told by management that they have to just smile and take it?

    Secondly – where the hell was the rest of the staff when this was going on? Did the other flight attendants not notice or care that Slater was bleeding from the head? Isn’t there some kind of protocol when a staff member has been injured? It seems completely irresponsible that the staff (attendants and pilots) ignored the problem – if that is in fact what happened. Who knows – I wasn’t there and the story seems to keep changing so I’m reluctant to blame anyone since the truth seems elusive at this point.

  • joshua

    Ive done many bar-tending jobs. Rich or poor, drunk or sober people are obnoxious,rude, self-righteous, bigoted, jerks. The nice people are far more rare.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    In the current New Yorker, David Sedaris writes at once humorously and thoughtfully on the subject of airport and airline horror (though not about Slater). He wonders in his conclusion whether the airport/airline experience is making us monsters … or whether we already are monsters, and that the airport/airline is a venue that welcomes our monstrosity.

    I tend toward the latter explanation.

  • joshua

    To the last caller that says some service employees dont necessarily deserve a tip–he says maybe they think they ‘re doing a good job but they’re really not. Perhaps you’re not a very tolerant customer with unreal expectations–ever think of that! Consider that wait person has other people around and behind him–part of a team, working with machines, suppliers, etc and may have no control over little things that go wrong in your precious service.

    Also consider, in American culture a tip is expected, its not just gratuity. Most waitpersons are paid slave-wages because they are expected to be tipped. When I was in the restaurant business, we made about 2.00 dollars an hour. If you dont tip me, I cant pay my bills. You obviously dont understand the work involved or the stress in a busy food/drink service. Especially when customers feel so entitled, and see you as their plaything, entertainer, and servant.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    I run into more examples of stranger-politeness than stranger-rudeness on a daily basis. That might just be good luck on my part, to judge by the news.

    But then, politeness doesn’t make the news, does it? And rudeness sticks out in the mind and the memory…

    I recall an incident when I was riding Greyhound. Just before embarking, I asked my driver a question that might have been naive but was certainly innocent. His response: “Are you really that dumb?”

    Also, when working as an order-taker for FTD, I had a customer use profanity with me over several calls; flustered, I hung up on him, and he called me back and told me he’d hunt me down in my home and kill me!

    As a long-time sufferer of customer service jobs, I must say one of the worst capitalist principles is the one that claims “the customer is always right.” Oh no they’re not.

  • Joshua Hendrickson


    my wife, who comes from the East Coast, and others have told me about how restaurants pay under the minimum wage and force waiters to live on tips. That has always appalled me as well as surprised me; it isn’t legal in the state where I live. Really, such a practice ought to be outlawed on a national level.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    “manage your tensions … take yoga”!?!

    Be a good slave.

  • Mary

    I was listening to your program today in my car and couldn’t wait to get back to say Thank you for saying things that need to be said. People are very rude and are rewarded for it. They do dress like they have no self respect. Our Society has gone down so much in the last 50 years. I don’t like it. In fact I am very uncomfortable with it. When did we become so politically correct that we have no morals and self respect and it is OK?? I hope your Radio Listeners will all help to help stimulate Pride, Selflessness, and Respect to themselves and others. Bring back the Draft!!

  • http://www.beccar.wordpress.com Eugenia Renskoff

    Hi, Could this man be a hero because he was fed up with his job and did something about it? I know that most employed people can’t just quit but I admire him very much. And I hope he does not go to jail. Eugenia Renskoff

  • Marsha

    Another example of how On Point does NOT distinguish itself from “other” radio program and instead falls to the lowest common denominator. What is the reason that the immature actions of one flight attendant out of thousands who fly every day suddenly is newsworthy? Seems to me the reason is that other news outlets are making a big deal out of it. So sure, bring in “experts.” This sounds like a spoof, not a real show.

  • Joe Kesselman

    No matter whether he was provoked or not, no matter whether he was quitting or not pulling the emergency escape counts as sabotage on the way out the door. After that move, I wouldn’t hire him as trash collector, for fear of what he might do to my business if/when he decided to quit again.

    Sure, he’s a “hero” because many people have had the same impulse and he gives them a vicarious thrill — precisely the way that the action hero in a film who does something equally dramatic gets a cheer even if — especially if — it’s out of all proportion to the provocation. But realistically, the reason they suppressed that impulse was that, unlike him, they weren’t idiots and could see that the long-term consequences were REALLY not worth it.

    Quitting visibly and noisily, OK. Telling off the intolerable customer in the process, less so but understandable. Damaging company property worth more than $10? Ultimate career-limiting move, unless he can prove not only mental illness at the time but can present a doctor’s signature that he is under continuing treatment that will prevent a recurrence.

    I don’t think he needs to be jailed. I do think he needs to pay for appropriate repair/repacking/recertification of that escape chute. Beyond that, the job market will exact more than enough punishment.

  • Kaze

    I think more and more people are getting fed up with rude and loud people. Not only on planes, you can find them among your co-workers. Most of them I came across are very incompetent in their jobs but I have also come across very competent people who are extremely rude. The problem is people don’t have much respect for each other. Everyone believe in their righteousness.We saw it well within the current Tea Party Movement. They believe in rudeness and loudness to win arguments rather than the substance.
    We should focus more on the couple who triggered the flight attendent to do these crazy things. Media should publish there pictures.

  • Arturo

    Oh God! I was doing the dishes and I had to stop. What I am hearing? Lots of talking, but the beef is not there. Your guests are dancing around the issue, talking about everything except the core issue. Oppression, that is the word that I am still waiting to hear, but none of the experts parading here dare to say. We amay be re jerks, that I do not doubt, but only when we do not know who is oppressing us. Then when we act against our fellow men and women is when we act like jerks. That is why so many people see this man as a hero, he decided not to take it anymore.

    For the last decades corporate capitalism has been assaulting workers in every possible way, and not only oppressing people as workers (these are the happy ones), but as consumers as well. But consumers are idiots, I hear, and the man might be right.

    I have much to say about this conversation, so far disappointing. This comes after two economists mystified about the mess that financial capitalism is still doing. I do not know if you noticed, but the only sensible guests in the last show was the fund manager who spoke at the end. His point was very subtle, but basically he told one of these ewxperts how wrong he was.

    We may be entering on an economic deflation, but the inflation of words and opinions are still there. Asks the narcissist of this world.

  • Camille Napier Bernstein

    I’d like to speak out in defense of the many kind and generous flight attendants AND passengers. I recently traveled alone with two children and found innumerable people willing to help me.

    This sounds like one of those forwards that everyone (well, mostly our moms now) sends around, but it happened to me on July 21, 2010. I had a terrible second leg of a journey to Boston from Tennessee. At the height of my misery, with two screaming children and a packed plane, a woman across the aisle leaned over and said, “How can I help?”

    I handed her my 10-week-old and said, “His name is Henry.”

    The woman rocked Henry until he calmed down and until Virginia, my 2.5-year-old fell asleep on my lap. Two other women, next to and behind my savior, offered sweaters and silly faces and sweet cooing to help settle Henry. We didn’t chat or even exchange names.

    Five minutes before the plane landed, as I balanced two (finally) sleeping children on my lap, one of the women passed me this note. She rushed off the plane to catch a connecting flight, so I never got to thank her. If anyone knows a Beth from Austin who sat in seat 12F on US Airways Flight #1488 from Charlotte to Boston, please let her know I am forever grateful for her support. I am hoping someone at the airlines will take this on as a project of getting her my message.

    Her letter is pasted below.

    Dear Mom,

    You are doing a great job. You are a great mother. You are crazy and brave with the patience of a saint—even though you may not feel that way on the inside right now.

    You might feel embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed of your crying babies in front of all the other people you feel are judging you. Please remember this—you are raising and shaping and nurturing another human being. What you are doing is more important that what anyone around you is doing on a laptop.

    I have 4 kids very close in age, and fly with them frequently. I’ve endured every comment and had people asked to be moved to other seats.

    That’s okay. It’s okay. They aren’t you, aren’t in your position and not trying to do something as difficult or as important as you. So let them move—it gives you more room to spread out. Don’t let yourself feel bad (for too long). Before you know it, they will be pulling their own luggage and “tuning you out” with their MP3 players.

    You may not miss this particular moment of their childhood and experiences. But walk off the plane knowing that you took on an enormous task of traveling with babies and a dozen of us would do anything to help you, and all of us have been in your shoes. And our support and thoughts and our love go to you – and your little ones who are simply out of their element and probably tired—without judgment.

    Remember, “it takes a village,” and it’s okay to hand a baby over sometimes. :)

    Please know you are supported. Please remember these impossible moments pass and they make good stories later. :)

    Get a glass of wine (or 2) and repeat, “That flight sucked, but I kicked ass,” because you did.

    Sincerely ,
    an Austin mom of 4 — Beth

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Arturo: excellent comment. But why should we expect a full-blooded critique of capitalism per se, even on NPR? It is the forbidden subject, after all.

    Tom and guest mentioned a famous guy who jumped out of an airplane with a lot of money, but couldn’t recall his name. I do: he was D.B. Cooper, and his exploit, which happened where I live, was well reknowned when I was a kid … 1979, if I recall correctly.

  • GAL

    I travel quite a lot all over the world, and in general I find that a smile goes a long way in dealing with stressed passengers and the airline staff that have to deal with them. Once I arrive at an airport on my way for a trip, I take a deep breath and accept whatever comes my way–I think of it as moving into automatic mode. If there are delays, the seat is uncomfortable, the food is tasteless or absent, the luggage areas near my seat already filled, none of it matters. I am on my way. Although I understand how a flight attendant could lose personal control I see no benefit in celebrating the affair. It is highly truly possible that the JetBlue attendant, Steven Slater, could have suffered a concussion, given the extent of his training and experience and the fact that his responses did not match his previous behaviors . We should feel some empathy with his experience, not assume that he is merely an angry employee. Let us find some common ground in our crowded world and reach out to help one another get through the hard times.

  • Ronda Rutherford

    Appreciate the show. My question is – isn’t the Captain in charge of the crew as well as the passengers during flights? Did he not know how the staff on the plane was doing? Is this a supervision (or lack of supervision) issue?

  • I. Wannaknow

    Wasn’t the song “Take This Job and Shove It”, written and performed by Johnny Paycheck, before David Allan Coe sang it?

  • jeffe

    It seems that this guy was not telling the truth.
    Apparently he was drinking while on duty and the altercation was more him than this woman.

    Now he wants his job back! Can you believe the nerve of this rube? Here’s a message for babies like this, you need to understand some simple laws of physics: for every action there is a reaction.

    He quit, what part of this action does he not understand.
    On top of that he made a huge spectral of himslef and now he has the nerve to say he wants his job back or still wants to work as a steward? This speaks volumes about people not taking any responsibility for their actions.

  • CG

    Could he have had a concussion? That could have radically altered his personality and behavior. In which case criminal charges wouldn’t be warranted.

  • megan

    I liked what he did. I lost my job a year and a half now. I wished I had left the job instead of waiting for my employer to terminated. Everyone probably wished that they can tell their employer to take a hike, but they don’t have the courage like he does. That’s why he’s like a hero.

  • http://lizybee.wordpress.com Sweetman

    This was a great show, I listened to it twice and am still pondering all the aspects it brought to light. There is a bottom line in the mess of it all and I think it’s that we are behaving as though our individual wants and needs take precedence over alll others.
    The video of the woman at the Mc Donalds window is the hell-version of what happens when you can’t get what you want when you want it and her behavior is absolutely criminal.
    While I’m not done with this topic yet, here’s a bit of what I beleive is some of the problem: http://sweetmansbookreviews.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/can-we-get-some-ing-manners-here/

  • http://liakassart.com lia kass

    I’ve always wanted to slide down one of those chutes ever since I first saw a picture of one as a kid. “Why can’t we get off that way?” I asked. It’s about time someone did it! Most of them go unused.

  • jeffe

    I liked what he did. I lost my job a year and a half now. I wished I had left the job instead of waiting for my employer to terminated. Everyone probably wished that they can tell their employer to take a hike, but they don’t have the courage like he does. That’s why he’s like a hero.
    Posted by megan

    The reason you want to be let go is unemployment benefits. If you leave a job you are not eligible for them.

    Again most people are acting as if this guy did some wonderful thing, that he’s some kind of “working mans hero”. Well he’s obliviously not as he has asked for his job back or will be looking for another airline steward job. The problem for him is he’s not dealing with reality, who is going to hire this guy?

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 19, 2014
Lara Russo, left, Cally Guasti, center, and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y. on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  While their roommate story of $40,800 found in a couch made the news, other, weirder stories of unusual roommates are far more common. (AP)

From college dorms and summer camps to RVs and retirement hotels, what it’s like to share a room. True stories of roommates.

Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

More »
1 Comment
Our Week In The Web (August 15, 2014)
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

More »
Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

More »