Surely you’ve heard by now of 38-year-old Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who went on an alleged rant/flip-out/beer-grabbing emergency evacuation slide out of a plane at JFK yesterday. He’s all over the papers today. Planely, we are all nuts.
Slater has become something of a hero — it seems we’ve just been biding our time and waiting for someone to use one of those evac slides for purposes of our amusement instead of plain old survival — except to some people, who think he’s a) lost it or b) a delusional moron. Or c) both, neither of which preclude him from becoming an American hero. We like our heroes a little coo-coo for Coco Puffs here in America.
Slater and his slide are like an anecdote for our weirder-than-weird recessive times, what with the little guy getting fed up and sticking it to the big guy, crazies on a plane, and, of course, the pure, unscripted-but-almost-scripted drama of the moment (irate passenger/bag falls on head/f-bombs aloft; we can relate!). Plus, when something weird or funny happens on a plane, it’s sort of like something weird or funny happening in a classroom, or at a White House press conference. The bar can be a bit lower.
Anyway, you imagine that Slater hadn’t planned out his actions, but rather that they came to him in a fit of frenzied insight, and he went ahead and did them, despite the consequences. The fact that he grabbed two beers on the way out emphasizes that his reasoning facilities were intact, which means he’ll most likely be rewarded in kind with his own reality TV show.
This event is clearly made for TV, as evidenced by the blog of a man who happened to be on the flight. He’s gotten no less than 5 requests from reporters who want to interview him –“This is how we do things now!” one of them said in the comments on the blog post — and is now on his own whirlwind media tour. Thank God for blogs.
Slater, who was has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and trespassing, was smiling when police arrested him. Apparently they interrupted him while he was having sex, which is exactly what you do after ice cold stolen beers and stick-it-to-the-man type departures from your job of 20-some years. Whatta guy! His arraignment is scheduled for today. We can’t wait.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 10, 2010