When a flight attendant in the employ of Jet Blue made a snap decision to quit his job mid-shift this past week, he wasn't aware of the potentially negative and positive ramifications involved.
The slightly eccentric Stephen Slater sputtered over a loudspeaker in the cabin of the plane that he was "walking" after twenty-eight years on the job after allegedly being mistreated by fussy passengers.
He grabbed a couple of brewskies out of the cooler, and then, proceeded to launch the emergency exit slide to facilitate a quick escape.
Although the moment was a liberating one (doesn't every low-paid worker toiling at a position they hate fantasize about telling their boss to take the "job" and shove it?) a short white later the flight attendant received a rude awakening when he was tracked down by law enforcement and summarily arrested for two felony counts (endangerment to passengers - for one - as well as a couple of other trumped-up charges).
After all, tossing in the apron at a local take-out joint, is a much lesser offense.
Meanwhile, on another front, there was a startling development.
At the speed of lightning, internet users were suddenly all-a-twitter over Slater's impromptu rebellion.
Indeed, to many, he was a modern-day hero!
One fan of the feature film - "Nework" - joked that the plump steward managed to articulate the rage of the dreary working classes in one fell swoop.
Within days, the paparazzi was swarming to epic proportions and in hot-'n-heavy pursuit - after the man-of-the-hour - with the specifc aim of nabbing footage of what would eventually become one of the phenomenon news dramas of the year.
In addition, tabloid magazine shows brimmed with scintillating up-to-the-minute updates on the prey they were tracking, pundits argued about the plight of the common "Joe" in this country today, and even psychologists ventured forth to spout off about the merits of taking a stand in the work-place in order to free one's self from an unhealthy scenario capable of chipping away at the individual's feeling of self-worth.
Meanwhile, in about two-seconds flat, over 100,000 facebook members logged in to the popular social hub and voiced their support.
Slater captured the imagination (and hearts) of total strangers around the planet on the heels of his ballsy decision to say adios to a job that showered him with alot of glowing praise over the years.
Mr. Jet Blue!
But, dark were forces were about to swirl into his life, because of basic human nature.
For example, in his moment of glory, passsengers on the flight appeared out of the wood-work to chip away at the newly-crowned Prince of pop culture.
To some, Slater didn't deserve the accolades!
"He was grumpy throughout the flight," alleged one incredulous ticket-holder.
"What about the passengers," lamented another agitated guest, who was angered by the fact there appeared to be so little sympathy for the passengers, who allegedly suffered from the brunt of Slater's so-called abusive conduct throughout the flight.
What was so heroic about being a quitter, afer all - in a high-security work environment - where a selfish act of said nature might put the well-being of individuals in jeopardy?
In response to the hotly-debated topic, critics successfully rustled up a handful of valid arguments, that simultaneously resonated and struck up a chord.
For starters - a flight attendant's job is a specialized one - which includes the operation of emergency equipment, training tips on how to usher passengers to safety in the throes of a mishap mid-flight during take-off and landing, you name it.
In fact, in a highly-specialized work arena like the one that flight attendants toil in - common sense dictates that an airline employee (though pissed off on occasion) - would be wiser (better off) to bite their quivering lips and hold on 'til the end of their shift before shouting:
"I'm outta here!"
There is the question of work history, for instance.
Quitting a job with proper notice is rarely viewed as a negative by a potential employer, for instance.
But, a bizarre break-down (of sorts) - like Slater's - is guaranteed to trigger a negative resume entry sure to haunt Jet Blue's "escape artist" for years to come.
After all, it is doubtful they'll hire him back at this juncture, in spite of the fact he revealed a few days ago, that the melt-down and impromptu beer bust have not deterred thoughts of returning to the work force at Jet Blue (with all forgiven).
All things considered, Slater's bid for re-hire, will probably be rejcted.
Using an an emergency slide for personal use - alone and in-and-of-itself - dictates that will be the end scenario for Slater without doubt.
Walking off the job on the tarmac, without notice, was an even more serious offense - which also guarantees - there won't be a revolving door for Slater at the airline known for its generosity in respect to discount airfares.
I know from whence I speak, after all.
Years ago - I was going through a period of uncertainty in my life - which was unhappily brought on by the unexpected ups-and-downs (mostly financial) of my struggling career in the fine arts.
So, at the urging of a couple of friends working flights @ CP Air (originally based in Canada, but now a defunct business entity) I applied to traipse down the aisles to serve coffee, snacks, and such (at Air Canada's biggest competitor).
During my training period - which lasted about 8 weeks - I was taught all the emergency procedures, the appropriate behaviour to adhere to while on board and on duty and in flight - in addition to serving techniques - and tips on how todeal with unruly passengers, and-so-forth-and-so on.
And, of course, I was taught how to open the infamous emergency slide which Slater launched to effect his escape with two brewskies intact on his improptu trek home.
Indeed, I have actually slid down that trippy escape contraption, which rates right up there with a whoopie cushion.
In fact, one fly guy I was room-mates with yeas ago, ended up using the eye-catching exit tool on one occasion after a plane was downed, and ended up on the front page of the local newspaper where he was touted as a virtual life-saver
In training classes, I vividly recall him worrying that if an emergency arose, he'd end up fainting.
After he managed to open the shoot (with a bit of sloppy trepidation) he began to assist the passengers to safer ground with little aplomb.
Ironically, a photographer at the crash site, also captured a publicity still showing hapless harried Greg coming through with flying colors.
As to me?
Well, in a few months, I settled into the job like a duck to water.
Although my "probationary" flights were limited to domestic runs - Toronto, Ottawa & Montreal - I found the job a most agreeable one.
Passengers tended to run the female flight attendants ragged for water and magazines, while dudes like moi, were usually called upon to politely answer questions about the speed of the aircraft, what model were we flying in, etc.
That was a snap for me because CP AIR - at one point - had a fleet of aircraft that consisted of DC-10s, 747s, 737s, and - my favorite little airplane known as - the 727 (which featured a novel exit door inside the tail of the plane).
So, of course, I was familiar with every little do-dad, hidden compartment, toilet paper storage unit, and-so-forth and so-on.
However, one day - it spite of the smooth sailing I savored from the get-go - I jumped out of bed at approxitely 5 a.m. in the morning and snatched up a pair of white socks by mistake and slipped them on without thinking.
Later, I was sitting at the airport terminal on "call" - when a CP Air Supervisor strode by - caught sight of the offending white socks - and began to grill me over the uniform glitch (and failure to comply with binding rules and regulations).
In fact, the "white socks" incident became a cause celebre with management.
Such a gross infraction underscored to the suits "upstairs" that I was not airline material.
And so, they started on an aggressive campaign to presssure me to pack it in.
Unlike Slater, I played it cool - and hung in there - until my benefits kicked-in.
On that satisfing day - when I turned in my uniform, name badge, and signed out - I gave 'em the finger as I strolled out the employment office with benefits, name and reputation intact, and positive work history to boot.
Stephen, you would have been wise to have done the same!
In the wake of an effort to build a defense fund for Stephen Slater, fans of the New York resident locked heads to conjure up (imagine) ideas for humorous T-shirts.
One drummed up by Roger Ebert is a hoot.
T-Shirt front image:: "I may be under arrest..."
T-Shirt back image: "But, got two free beers out of it..."
Also, on e-Bay, luggage tags underscore how many folks view Slater.
"Steve Slater: An American hero.'
In respect to the adventurous imaginative escape from Jet Blue, yes!
As to the abandonment of his post which left passengers open to potential danger, no!
You be the Judge.
Meanwhile, I expect that Stephen Slater will be invited to Obama's next beer summit, sans a nomination for a Citizen's Award, in view of the doom and gloom currently hovering over the rogue flight attendant today.
Ah, that hit the spot!