Wow! Can you believe Steven Slater did what he did? Yes, of course you can, because you have thought of doing something similar yourself. Go on, admit it.
I do not believe Slater was dissatisfied with his employer; I think he genuinely enjoyed his job and the company. He demonstrated this with his long work history as a career flight attendant with his current and other airlines. I think he was tired and fed up with the traveling public. Maybe the public in general.
From an aviator’s standpoint, I do not condone what he did. However, I can understand to a certain degree, why he reacted the way he did to a rude passenger. At some point, you just get tired of taking it and you snap. Many have in the past and I am sure it will continue into the future.
Now Slater has become an instant celebrity. The media is chasing him down for comments as well as pursuing others even remotely associated with the airline industry for comments on the event.
This is not good. Is this incident an indication of the direction our society is headed? One interesting comment by a “business psychologist” suggested we are all suffering from an unusual amount of stress. Especially stress related to the current financial situation. Too many, he said, are fearful of losing their jobs.
With the jobless rate at 9.5 percent by official count and greater than 17 percent if you include the unemployed who have given up looking for work, those left working are saying what many already realize. Employees remaining on the job are working harder for lower wages. Management and business owners expect their employees to work harder and be thankful for their jobs, no matter how unbearable the position might be. Many in the service industry, sales positions, and other lower-paying jobs feel as if this is the new definition of “indentured servitude.”
Joel Mausner, a business psychologist speaking on the Slater incident, says “we are at one of those times where people are super-stressed out.” In the same Youtube video, Veda Shook of the Association of Flight Attendants supports Mausner’s observation when she says flight attendants are working “more for less.” (www.youtube.com)
According to Corey Caldwell, a spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, the stress of flying is higher for both the traveling public and those charged with their safety during flight. She makes the very valid point a passenger disregarded Slater’s instructions to sit down-also a chargeable federal offense. Not to support Slater’s actions, but I have also witnessed passengers behaving badly and ignoring instructions from cabin attendants. I believe this is an area the FAA should look into.
What has caused all this stress in airline aviation? For one, cutbacks by the airlines in an effort to save money; 9/11; Homeland Security; requirements to arrive unusually early to clear security; and generally, the lack of civility in many.
I say, let’s go back to The Golden Rule and treat everyone as we would like to be treated.
© 2010 J. Clark