The wise philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” We blinked and Thousand Oaks flight attendant Steven Slater became a national hero for his major, take-this-job-and-shove-it move this week.
People magazine is already wondering aloud who might play him in a Hollywood film. At least one animated recreation of his melt down — he gave the verbal finger to passengers via loudspeaker on a JetBlue flight then exited via emergency chute — is already online. And his Facebook fans have created a page to raise money for his legal defense.
Monday's incident on a JetBlue flight from Pittsburgh to New York's Kennedy Airport started when a passenger allegedly cursed the 38-year-old flight attendant and hit him with a piece of luggage. When the plane touched down Slater got on the loudspeaker, announced his feelings about the job, grabbed some beer from a fridge, and inflated the emergency exit chute for a dramatic exit.
According to one eyewitness account, what he said over the P.A. system was something like, “F— you! F— all of you! I'm f—— through with this! I'VE HAD IT! I've been doing this for 28 f—— years and I can't take it anymore. And for the f—– a—–who told me to f— off: f— you! That's it! I'm done! F— you all!”
Unfortunately, unless there was an emergency landing, that last move was against the law, and Slater was quickly visited at home by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police, who arrested him. He was later charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, among other counts. Slater pleaded not guilty and has hired a lawyer.
The story got so big that even JetBlue had to respond. “You can't make this shtick up,” the airline stated.
One poll found that 60 percent of respondents believe Slater is an American hero.