Sliding with Slater

Is the JetBlue flight attendant a hero or villain?

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Comments (40)

(40) SusanE, August 22, 2010 7:55 PM

Hero or Villan? I Wasn't There. Might be your Average guy.

If anyone of us thinks people are perfect we are living in a fantasy world. Many people don't do the right thing. Most people don't care at all what you think about them. Most people actually believe what they read in the newspapers and watch on the news networks. They are living in a Fantasyland. Why is the story of the flight attendant any of our business? I can't judge him fairly. I wasn't there. Unless you were in the airplane right beside that flight attendant, then you don't know what happened. His credibility will show on his work record. If the networks get an ongoing story, or the airline gets press time, or the woman on the plane can sue and make a buck off this guy, they will. Don't believe what you hear from them.

(39) TMay, August 22, 2010 5:31 AM


I was in error when I made the previous comment. The original news reports misled me. I think the media got the story totally wrong. It was bad adolescent behavior, not heroic. It now comes to light that the flight attendant was rude first, that he cut himself early in the flight that had nothing to do with the Female passenger, and that he was drinking during the flight. This was reported by ABC News under the title of “Is the JetBlue Fight Attendant Not Such a Hero After All?” Therefore I do not think the passenger should be arrested. I hope the airline continues to have the backbone to keep him fired, and I hope the union will not break their arm to have him rehired. He acted unprofessionally. The airlines have enough problems with drunk abusive passengers, they don’t need to subject their paying passengers to a paid drunk abusive self-pitying raging worker. Does this person have a substance abuse, depression and rage problem that they should be addressing? Concerning my metaphor in my previous comment, I would not want my surgeon to be drunk, drinking, nor under the influence. I would not want to fly a flight with this abusive man working on the flight since they have the power to make one’s life miserable. I think he should have to pay for the repair costs of the slide having been activated. I know that in a car the cost is over $1,000 for an activated airbag. He should also pay damages to the airline for an estimate of the passengers who have been turned off to flying Jetblue. When you think of the Jetblue passengers who were delayed due to his actions that might have missed once in a lifetime weddings, he really owes an apology to the passengers whose plans were ruined, whether they were the passengers on the flight who were detained by police or whether they were on the next flight.

(38) Anonymous, August 21, 2010 1:43 AM

Monkey see, Monkey do

Here's something that no one talks about: the adverse influence of TV programs. The woman who refused to follow the safety rules probably got her clue from some TV program, as did the flight attendant. I see this type of behavior quite often. Example: During a wedding that I attended some years ago, a guest became angry with me because I was not drinking alcohol. He accused me of being "unAmerican" because I was not behaving like the female characters on "Dynasty".

(37) TMay, August 20, 2010 9:18 PM


It now appears that he was drinking on the flight while working, that he was the one who started off being rude, and that the cut on his forehead happened at the beginning of the flight and had nothing to do with the female passenger, witnesses said and ABC News reports.see "Is the JetBlue Fight Attendant Not Such a Hero After All?" My comment above was made without knowledge of these statements therefore now I understand why the passenger was not arrested. Regarding my metaphor to a surgeon, I would definitely not want my surgeon to be drinking, nor dunk, nor under the influence. I hope the airline keeps up its backbone to have fired him and I hope the union does not force his rehiring. I was misled by the media reports.. I would not want such a man working on a plane that I was flying.

(36) Nancy, August 19, 2010 11:37 PM

No folk hero to me!

I was a teacher for many years and had bad days as well. I never would have grabbed some "crayons" and left my class. This guy was a jerk!

(35) Grace Fishenfeld, August 19, 2010 3:20 AM

Mirror, Mirror

Some where along the way all of us have get the realization that we have to put our selves, and our egos to the side at any work place. Performing a service requires patients and understanding . We are paid for performing tasks for the sake of others and we better find a way to like it. If we cannot find any redeeming aspects in our efforts, we have to give notice without endangering anyone. People see themselves and sympathize with Slater's rejection of his responsibilities that stressful day. . He represents our vulnerability and so, he is no hero.

(34) James, August 18, 2010 1:18 PM

Criminal act

Mr. Slater is no hero, he is a criminal. The aircraft had just pulled up to the gate. There is a flurry of activity on the ground as ramp workers scurry to unload baggage , fuel and cater the aircraft and get it ready for the next flight segment. What would have happened if some hapless ramp worker, doing his or her job, had happened to be in the wrong place when the slide chute unexpectedly deployed ? They could have been killed or seriously injured, thus the charge of reckless endangerment. I for one hope he sees some jail time. I fly jetBlue often, and I too feel that sometimes their flight attendants are more concerned SELLING alcohol and "meal" pack for $6-7 than safety. Just my view.

(33) Anonymous, August 18, 2010 12:55 PM

Lighten Up

Of course the guy was completely wrong in what he did. But we can all take some vicarious pleasure from his bad behavior, and we can go on with our lives while he pays the price. He did what we might like to do but don't because of our good judgement / fear / morality / conformity / whatever. He acted out our fantasy. No permanent damage was done. Why shouldn't we dream and enjoy?

(32) David Tzvi, August 18, 2010 4:25 AM

Hit the road

This guy committed unacceptable acts after the accident. Having consumed 2 beers he then drove home. With heart racing he probably was over the legal limit. His reaction to inflight stress is a marker of how he probably is in traffic where his in-flight rage will probably turn into road rage at some point. I totally disagree with #11 and # 19 that this is some how indicative of an American or that's it's what's wrong with America. Rude arrogant abusive behavior is a human response to unpleasant or high level of stress. I've seen it all over the world.

(31) Savtamama, August 18, 2010 12:40 AM

Not My Hero

Of course Mr Slater's actions are not worthy of celebration! A hero is one who helps others, not expresses his frustrations in coarse language [over an intercom!], abandons his duties, puts others, potentially at risk, and steals employer's property. Mr Slater expressed the frustration many feel in their jobs, and it captured the imagination of many, but [hopefully] most people truly know that his was a very immature way to express it.

(30) Bea, August 17, 2010 6:11 PM

Any one could have done it!

I certainly cannot see this man as a "folk hero". Anyone can 'explode' under pressure; only heroes can dominate their spirit (Proverbs 25:28). People might have different motives when dominating their spirit, though; perhaps, fear of losing their job or shame. Despite of the motives I've always admired a person who has control over her/himself.(Proverbs 16:32)

(29) Anonymous, August 17, 2010 5:17 PM

A lesson from a mistake

I think he is wrong, everyone is responsible for themselves and not others actions. The others in this case are the people who abuse, overwork, and dehumanize Slater. Although what these people do is harsh that’s the reality of his job. Slater can only control his reaction to the situation and he certainly reacted wrongly especially in this economy. This is the reality of America people are rude, the brats are the role models and stars, its commendable if some bodies always in a hurry because that means he’s busy and important, and the working class well they just have to take what the upper class gives them. I can imagine being Slater a feeling so stuck because if someone’s rude to you, you can have to just suck it up, people sitting their holding power over him. But he knew these circumstances before he took the job, and this is the reality of the world everywhere. I think Slater can be seen as a real wake up call, no he is not a hero, but he still demonstrates a good point it’s not ok to treat people like slaves and nobodies regardless of whether you’re the passenger or the server.

(28) Marc, August 17, 2010 4:08 PM

JetBlue Needs to hire better quality flight attendants.

I have flown on Jetblue airlines a few times now and I am always astonished at the low level of professionalism of their flight attendants. The comparison between them and other carriers is stark. Okay they are a discount carrier but they are also bringing in some big profits. They should spend a little more money to hire better quality flight attendant and not hire people who would be better at maintaining a concession stand in a ball park.

(27) Anonymous, August 17, 2010 4:07 PM


the jetblue flight attendant was not a hero nor a villain he went against his employment contract by doing what he did and put other employees on the ground in danger by deploying the shoot without notice, it was a stupid short sighted and illegal action, if someone is that disgruntled with their job they should go to the HR dept. and quit not put people in danger

(26) Carmin Rosenthal, August 17, 2010 3:33 PM

Root cause

Let's take a deep look at the man's root problem(s) : Lack of spiritual guidence? Lack of respect? Venom that spewed from his mouth? Substance abuse? These all lead to a bad day. B"H

(25) M. A.G., August 17, 2010 3:24 PM


As a former flight attendant I am aghast that he would be considered a “folk hero.” I know first hand that being a flight attendant is not an easy job, but just like any other job you are to keep decorum and especially as a flight attendant you are entrusted to be able to deal with many situations that can occur on a flight. A passenger who is getting up when the seatbelt sign is turned on is not a major issue. Would you want this man to be your flight attendant in a real emergency? Would those who call him a “folk hero” be comfortable to have their loved ones be on board when he is one of the crew members on duty and G-d forbid a hijacking is in progress or the landing gear is not coming down? As a crewmember his first responsibility is the safety of the passengers. He violated that by leaving a plane with passengers still on board, which if they would have had to evacuate the airplane if an emergency would have arisen, who was going to fill in for him? I guess the first officer would have had to take over his duties, if he had a door responsibility. Furthermore, popping that slide could have killed someone standing outside. Calling him a folk hero is absurd at best. Instead of doing his primary duty,being responsible for people’s safety, he compromised safety. Again, ask yourself, in a real emergency, would you want him on your plane?

(24) David R. Stayer, August 17, 2010 3:23 PM

I do not believe he is a hero. I am a retired blind social worker who faced not only clients for 38 years but the attitudes of oprofessionals who believed I could function because I am totally blind. My Davening helped me and still helps me toay si

My comments are actually in the summary line above. Sorry for the error but my screen reader or rather I misinterpreted. I do agree that unfortunately money rules on the part of employees and employers. W4e have lost our values and responsibility in American society, but our belief in Torah at least me try and maintain my values.

(23) Moe, August 17, 2010 3:17 PM

It was cowardly, but there's a place for it

ILashing out, stealing beers, and then misusing, abusing, the emergency escape just because you're frustrated is childish and cowardly. It's a demonstration of non-restraint and shows everything that's ugly about humanity. If he needed to release frustration he should have grabbed a pillow (of which there are many on a flight), run to a private area, and punched the pillows lights out. But there is a place for this sort of response - Biblical Joseph. He was faced with temptation of the highest sort and he didn't attempt to reason with it. He didn't take a moment to put himself together and face the challenge again. He B-lined for the fire escape and left. He didn't even take his coat (in fact, the Medrash says he ran out completely naked). Nothing was going to stop him. That's where this reaction belongs. Don't face temptation. Run away with all your might.

(22) ruth housman, August 17, 2010 3:12 PM

how to address, stress

There are several comments on line that make sense to me, that have to do with management, both higher management and also how we make our workplaces, work for us, and personally deal with ongoing stress as surely, a steward on an airline is so often treated like some kind of personal "slave" or cocktail waiter. We are told when we are very stressed, to walk away from the situation, to cool off, and in fact we do this for our children with "time out". We all need time out. I don't know the history of this man's day, but yes, stress does accumulate and sometimes what happens is the "tipping point". We tip our hats and take a hike. Maybe people wish they could do this: a perhaps common fantasy, and the stuff of many dreams for sure, namely standing up to someone and saying,, I've had enough! I think this certainly points to an ongoing societal problem, as you have pointed out. Our folk heroes, for good or for bad, are often people who stand up for wrongs. This just happens to feel trivial to some and major to others, being the stuff of fiction and not what people "really do". How much should we take? How much should others get away with in terms of being rude, inconsiderate boors? Maybe this issue is highlighted for us all, and maybe it was God's way of saying, here's an Issue to be addressed!

(21) Fran Farber, August 17, 2010 3:10 PM

Slater wrong person for the job

"Slater obviously has a problem keeping his temper in tow. Doesn't seem to have the right control for a position dealing with the public, that can sometimes be very stressful. Some people are anxious on planes and need someone to guide them in an approptiate manner. The fact that the airline would even consider hiring him back is very suspect. The man is wrong for this job. He hasn't got the skills needed.

(20) Pete Maniscalco, August 17, 2010 3:08 PM

If you are a Rabbi you Preach goodness, if you are a flight attendant you serve graciously

Dear Rabbi, your comments are feel good and i respect your thinking of the goodnes in man no matter, BUT if you are a surgeon you do not throw down your knife in the middle of an operation no matter how many agravations you have had that day and if you are a flight attendant you serve with a smile no matter the expected aggravations of this job OR FIND ANOTHER LINE OF WORK. I am sure he was not chained to this job. Pete Maniscalco

(19) Anonymous, August 17, 2010 2:42 PM

I agree wih lisa (7)

True, we dont know the facts on both sides and we cannot judge. But this much is true: Many Americans have big mouths and think they are etitled to everything. Where is common courtesy? Politeness? Midot? Why do people always say "I want" instead of "could you please give me?" This boils down to what I have been complaining about for YEARS. Children are educated by TELEVISION. So were their parents (if they were hippies in he 60's) Do you see what your kids are watching? It's disgusting. Teach your children how to behave. Teach them how to ask for something even if they are stressed out. Teach them to care - and they will never get into such a situation as this flght attendant did with the passenger. This attitude comes from not caring about a fellow human being (the passenger). Very often I get into situations where someone says things I don't agree with and if I see there is no way to continue the conversation, I keep quiet. That's what the flight attendant should have done. He should have kept quiet and called a higher authority (like the pilot, for example) to intervene. But the abandon the plane, I can understand why he did it, he felt he had no other alternative. As another writer wrote above, flight attendants MUST be trained to deal with nervous passengers.

(18) David Beraha, August 17, 2010 2:41 PM

HE is a HERO

In every sense of the word..Passengers can be very abusive..We can only take so much forom nasty people..we are human with feelings. We are not mechanical robots that can take all this crap from passengers!

(17) Lesly, August 17, 2010 2:10 PM

A real jerk!]

After all the excuses and the mutterings of a lack of support, a lack of training, high stress and rude customers the plain and simple truth is that this guy is a self-indulgent jerk.

(16) Stephanie, August 17, 2010 2:00 PM

Not a Folk Hero - But Not a Surprise

I thought your post was interesting, and to some degree, I feel you have merit in stating that Steven Slater is not a "hero." But how are you going to address corporate and organizational management taking abusive advantage of the working class. Not to be disrespectful Rabbi Solomon, but do you have the ability to stand up to your own bosses, whose interests may make you hesitant about speaking your mind - without fear of losing your blog post? It happens. I think that something you may want to address are better ways for all of us to communicate so that this does not happen again - instead of micro-managing this particular event. Again, no disrespect meant. Just in need of a more spiritual take on the feelings of our world in general. Thank you kindly.

(15) Anonymous, August 17, 2010 1:50 PM

Was there a subtext such as now getting national TV exposure on for cash?

(14) Anonymous, August 17, 2010 1:49 PM

The every day heroes stay with their high stress jobs. They don't abandon their responsibilities during their shift. this puts extra burden on coworkers.

(13) LFTASH, August 17, 2010 1:39 PM



(12) Guy Sutton, August 17, 2010 1:31 PM

Slater slid down the wrong path

As an ex attendant, I can tell you that sure, it is hard up there, and on the ground. When you have 150 or so passengers all waiting to land and get off the craft, they get so ansy the minute we land and want to start to get all ready to disembark, but, this is actually the most dangerous part of the flight. If the captain has to hit the brakes, that is where MORE accidents occur than in the air. The craft hits hard and fast, anyone standing can be tossed to the ground instantly. But, is Slater wrong, yes. Should he be considered the folk hero, no. He left a very fragile post at the wrong time. he should have radioed ahead and had marshalls/or the one one the plane, arrest this person for disturbing the flight rules, and then gone home and had a beer..... Guy

(11) Anonymous, August 16, 2010 6:17 PM

imo This just shows another thing that is wrong

with America these days. The fact that people are not taught how to deal with difficult situations, starting in elementary school. The fact that too many feel entitled to something. We all have bad days. He should have been thankful he was employed in this economy. To elevate him to a level of a folk hero is ludicrous. To me this only shows that the Ground Zero Mosque will be allowed to be built when it should not.

(10) Alan S., August 16, 2010 12:42 PM

Is management listening?

Both Slater and the passenger were wrong. Slater because he acted 'out; instead of seizing control of the situation and doing his best to avert trouble. The passenger, for obviously not following 'rules' and disrespecting the worker. Are passengers often mistreated? Of course. They can then complain to management and have their issues investigated with an appropriate response; or, they can do the old fasioned thing: take their business elsewhere. Are employees often mistreated? Yes, often by management as well as customers. In this instance, it is obvious that Slater was not given the necessary tools by management for this situation to have been prevented in the first place. And by the customer for being difficult. Is upper management going to do what it must? For instance, train their employees for such potential disruptions. And equally important, provide the circumstances wherein this type of abuse is lessened. The almight dollar rules, and till a company realizes that they must provide improved working conditions for both employees and customers, these situations will continue to happen. Finally, an employee must be able to discharge an unruly passenger with the support of management to lessen these types of incidents.

(9) Chavi, August 16, 2010 1:52 AM

more training needed

Passengers can be abusive. That comes with the territory. Airline staff need proper job training, including role playing of exactly such types of abuse from passengers. They need to have a prepared script deeply impressed in their psyches that they can retrieve on auto-pilot when such a situation occurs. They should be trained in the best ways to diffuse a potentially stormy confrontation. They need to take a page out of the boy scout manual: BE PREPARED! Soldiers get this type of training before they are sent out to the battle front. Airline staff need to be similarly trained to deal with their own battle front, especially because passengers are frequently legitimately irate, and it is the responsibility of the professional staff member to diffuse the situation. (You can't train passengers; you can only train your staff to deal professionally and tactfully with them.) A component of psychological training should be included in this training. Staff members should be taught how to mirror back a passenger's feelings and validate those feelings of frustration and anger. That will go a long way to diffuse the hostile feelings and abuse.

(8) Anonymous, August 15, 2010 10:31 PM

Behavior inappropriate, but..

His behavior is definitely inappropriate, however, what leads one to such levels of stress and burn out? Poor support from upper management. There used to be a time when bosses cared about their workers. Those days are long gone. I've been working under stressful conditions for many years. Yes, the company has a written policy and protocol for verbal harrassment, but it is in paper only. If I would follow the protocol, the level of harrassment would only worsen. (I've been advised to keep my mouth shut, but keep written records of everything.) So what does one do? About once a year, on average, I end up calling in sick on my very burned out days - I call them "mental health days". I keep my eyes opened for a better place of employment. I daven daily to Hashem, asking for His help in improving my work environment. I keep myself busy in many other areas so work is only my focus when I am there, but not on mind at any other time. It also helps me keep calm and giving at work knowing the verbal harrassment at work isn’t my life, just a small component. At the point when it begins to get more than I can handle, I must leave since my job and ability to give would get affected by my emotions.

(7) lisa, August 15, 2010 5:03 PM

High in the sky......was he??

I think we dont know ALL the facts...but nontheless he was wrong to act out.......we all have stress on the job...maybe he could have had another steward handle the passenger..... reached for a chocolate bar......or just said what he wanted to say to the passanger in a nicer way......the passenget too could have been we know both sides to the story?? It is hard to judge when we are not in their shoes......

(6) Anonymous, August 15, 2010 1:50 PM

inappropriate behavior

This man does not deserve the "folk hero" status. He abandoned his resposibilities in an irresponsible way. If you work in a service oriented job then you know what might come with the territiory. Dealing with the public in a confined space with trying to please 200 odd passengers is bound to have its stress. You know that before you take the job. If you can't handle the heat--do not take the job. Stewards on a plane are well trained in courtesty and deflecting anger; that's a sservice provided by the airlines in order to maintain customer satisfaction. The gash on slater's forehead was there before the flight boarded the plane as reported by passengers on the flight. Most flight attendents handle stress with aplomb and dignity; this man lost his cool and needs to change professions. Jet Blue needs to re-interview it's attendents and evaluate their abilities to handle stress. Not just anyone can handle the job. Thus they become a liability. Slater is a liability to jet blue.

(5) TMay, August 14, 2010 4:51 PM


He did not do the right thing.We would not want other people who had jobs to walk off, like a surgeon for instance because they had a bad day. Actually now that I think of it, maybe I do but corporations have to be warned to have stand- ins available. I once saw the photos of a small deadly plane crash and the pilot just before he took off had said the words "this is just not my day." Maybe he would have been better off if he had been aware of what he was saying and parked the plane and went home. I was surprised that this man got arrested and that he faces 7 years in prison. I thought he would be fired.. I was surprised the passenger that accosted him was not arrested. Passengers are also under stress and have been treated badly by the airlines and by the personnel.

(4) Andre Ranulfo, August 13, 2010 11:07 PM

That´s exactaly what Moses did with that guardian. He said: "That´s enough!" People are struggled, almost slaved on their jobs because of pressions of the market.

(3) dani, August 13, 2010 9:43 AM

Anger is generally a bad trait as well as cursing

Anger is generally a bad trait as well as cursing. This seems just like an impulsive move .

(2) SusanE, August 12, 2010 6:53 PM

Was It the Right Thing for Him to Do? Probably Not. but...

No employee has to take any type of abuse from any customer or any company. The customer here was clearly a disturbance. The flight attendant took a great deal of abuse from her, probably because he was following company policy . He was injured with a gash in the head from her actions. If a man had hit him with a piece of luggage and opened a gash in his head, what would have happened? NO ONE needs to agree to that type of behavior from a customer.. If I was the attendant, I might have wanted to deploy the chute at 30,000 feet with her in it. Been to Europe several times in coach.----------- Have seen people, especially women, who have entitlement stamped on their foreheads. Disruptive and rude and small women they are.. If I was JetBlue, I would black list her as a future passenger, and depending on his past record with the company, I would allow the attendant to leave with full retirement and benefits.

(1) , August 12, 2010 1:35 PM

It was not the right thing to do

He didn't handle the situation, because he didn't identify his stress earlier, when he could have still controlled a situation in which he was ultimately abused. What is telling in the story is that JetBlue is not handling the high stress level of their staff and they can face this kind of erratic behaviors. They should be lucky that no accident happened (like becoming so loose that he would have injured the abusive passenger back). The attendant should not be a hero but JetBlue should urgently reconsider providing support to their staff (and not only JetBlue, but everyone imposing stress conditions on their staff). They are at fault, not the guys who end up losing their wits. We live in very abusive conditions, and there is too little support to face the stress.


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