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August 10, 2010

We Are Steve

Steven Slater via Facebook
Steven Slater via Facebook

My main question is, how many people out there select an obvious work photo for their Facebook picture?

This choice, and the fact that he’s not beaming about it, suggests Steve “was having some issues” with his work identity.  That being the case, however, I don’t begrudge him what he did, not this summer — especially when you read the account in today’s NYT about how much abuse Mr. Slater took from the passenger, and how he still had safety in mind as he sprung the slide.

I’d say it’s an ironic coincidence there’s an escape exit in the background. The rest of it, though — the near-frown and near-wince juxtaposed with the cheap snacks (along with the prominence of his right ring finger, evoking, for a gay man, ties that bind) — sends a powerful message about one guy, in a “no service” world, having finally worn down.

Summing up twenty-eight years of the job on his face, the smile being the prime piece of the uniform, it says: ‘would you just look at this.’  And, in the best tradition of Howard Beale, now we have.

  • bystander

    Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
    [...]
    By the pricking of my thumbs,
    Something wicked this way comes. - The Witches; Macbeth; Act 4, Scene 1

  • shannza

    I think you’re mostly right on. But I disagree with the fact that it’s odd that he chose an obvious work photo to post to his Facebook. There used to be a clear separation between our work lives and our personal lives, and even between our online and offline lives, but on Facebook, Twitter etc… that is no longer the case.

    It is funny to read all the comments about this story. He is widely supported, which speaks to the idea of us leaving the service economy behind. We are appalled that he’s mistreated, yet instead of defending flight attendants, bartenders etc… we applaud the fact that he’s left the profession.

  • http://www.peterhollander.com peter Hollander

    What Shannza said. I usually have something pithy to add, but in this case, people are just cracking out there. Checking out.

    He did it with style and panache on so many fronts, it almost ain’t funny; From the telling the rude customer off, to grabbing the beers– two, ’cause the first one always leaves you wanting another– to grabbing his luggage on the way out, to pulling the chute, to non-chalantly taking the AirTrans back to his car like he was just punching out from another day at work.

    Classic on so many fronts.

    Seriously, though, I think he’s a counter to the employees who go “postal”, like the one in Connecticut last week. This guy just told The Man to “shove it”, and The Man sent, by media accounts, nearly 50 police cars and a few accompanying helicopters to get his ass off to jail. All because pulling the chute might have hurt some ground workers and made it a federal offence.

    People I work with are all looking for ways to get this guy some dough. If he had a PayPal donation button set up he’d probably be pushing a couple hundred thousand dollars by now.

  • Glenn May

    I agree with Mr. Hollander. The American way to crack up usually ends with the phrase “before turning the gun on himself.” Mr. Slater, I salute you for a very human and humane blow-up. It is a joke that this man was not ROR’s immediately. Rikers? For a slightly more eloquent version of raised middle finger?

  • http://leftistmoon.wordpress.com Wordsmith

    Not to mention that Mr. Slater has been no slouch. According to a one report I read, he helped care for his father when he was ill and is now helping care for his mother.

  • lq

    I was fascinated all day yesterday by the comments the NYT asked people to post regarding their personal ‘last straw’ moments. The best part of the postings is the questioning of the Times’ priorities – publishing Mr. Slater’s name, address, Facebook affiliation – and not giving a like amount of information regarding the passenger who behaved so badly. As to this photo – if I were still working I might well post a work photo since I spent far more hours at work than at home (in an awake state). Reading the accounts of how hours are accounted for at major airlines made me weep for the employees who fly. To take such egregious advantage of people, then not support them when they are at the mercy of ill mannered customers – not OK.

  • Books Alive

    I flew to Raleigh in June and San Jose in July. On one of the flights, a female attendant gave out an exasperated “I’m not paid enough to put up with this,” to nobody in particular. Fortunately, it was not taken as an insult by any of the passengers, who are known as “pax” in pilots’ jargon!

  • hadassdah

    He’s a Rock Star !!!!!!

  • ivyleaves

    I don’t know that anyone deserves a cookie just for not killing a bunch of people. I find it problematic that he becomes a hero, when there are sooo many people who take tons of abuse and CAN’T quit, people are horrible to those on the front lines even though they don’t set the policy. This guy is not all that, just someone acting out because he can.

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