If you haven’t heard the name “Steven Slater” (not to be confused with sociopathic teen Steven Spader), you must be living sans television or internet. Slater, who frankly strikes me as a glib, opportunistic attention whore, is inexplicably being hailed by many as a “folk hero” for his recent shenanigans at JFK Airport.
Perhaps the “folk tale” aspect isn’t far from accurate as the story seems to change every hour and Slater grows exponentially more mythical. Indeed, when the story first broke, it seemed like a standard case of “working class hero has enough.”
The basic story was that Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant, got pissed off when a female passenger refused to apologize to him after her luggage hit him on the head. Even worse, the passenger swore at him, and Slater snapped after putting up with rude, pushy airline passengers for thirty years. He announced via a profanity-laced intercom announcement that he was quitting, then grabbed a couple of beers, activated the emergency exit slide, and left his career in impeccable style.
Yeah, that would have been kind of a cool story. If it had been the truth. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Slater was not a hardworking guy that got pushed too far and instead just another asshole.
[The Wall Street Journal] spoke to one passenger, 53-year-old school teacher Marjorie Briskin, who said it was Slater who cursed first at a female passenger who simply asked him where her luggage was stowed.
“I didn’t think she was rude in the least. (He) was so inappropriate,” Briskin is quoted by the paper.
Another passenger, Lauren Dominijanni, reported asking Slater for a towel to clean up some coffee on her seat. She said Slater, “rolled his eyes in a real rude manner”.. then barked “No. Maybe when we get in the air. I need to take care of myself first, honey.” “It wasn’t normal.. I felt so uncomfortable on that flight.”
Still other passengers reported that Slater spent much of the flight patrolling the aisle, methodically opening overhead bins, then slamming them shut.
Now, I understand that people have a tendency to have a lot to say when it could get them into the media spotlight. Perhaps Briskin and Dominijanni totally fabricated their accounts as a means of stealing away some of Slater’s limelight. Stranger things have happened.
Slater, who is charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing, is being staunchly defended by a perhaps unlikely source—his ex-wife. Who was definitely not there. And, unlike Dominijanni and Briskin, probably is commenting on her ex’s proclivities just to get her name out there.
[Slater's ex-wife Cynthia Susanne] told “Early Show” co-anchor Erica Hill on the broadcast Thursday these reports seem to be from attention-seekers.
“As far as I can see, it seems like an opportunistic path for some people to come guard right now,” Susanne said. “I have known Steven to be only the consummate gentleman, a stellar flight attendant and a fabulous human being. There would be no reason for him to attack a passenger. If he was having an off day, it’s a possibility, but there’s no way that he would be verbally abusive to any of his passengers. He took his job too seriously.”
Um … an opportunistic path? Look in the freaking mirror, Ms. Susanne.
She added, “I’m more surprised more by the effect that nobody is holding this passenger accountable, just yet. I’m sure the media is bouncing this idea around that this person could be a problem. As far as the Steven that I know, there is no way that he would like, snap, as they say, without provocation. I have no doubt in my mind that to get him to this point this passenger had to have been a nightmare.”
Nobody is holding this passenger accountable? Your ex-husband is being lauded as some sort of working class hero for having a public temper tantrum a la Naomi Campbell, lady. And the passenger in question isn’t the one out there making kissy faces at media cameras.
Most shocking of all in terms of Susanne’s purported mindset is her attitude toward Slater’s potentially dangerous actions.
“I think it was a grand gesture to go,” she said. “We can question his motives for doing the slide thing. It was a stylish exit. Nobody got hurt. I can’t imagine why there would be criminal charges against him.”
Is this woman delusional, or is it more that she wants a featured role in the purported (and again, yes, I’m serious) Slater-centered reality show?
This entire story drives home what is wrong with the media in America. They took a story with sensationalization potential, spun it in favor of the hardworking guy who got shit on one time too many instead of taking the time to look at the facts from all angles, and called it good.
No wonder other countries have this view of Americans as one big Jerry Springer episode!
And the rumors are flapping fast and furious. According to TMZ, for example, Slater’s mother is getting it out there that it was the overhead bin and not a passenger’s luggage that injured her son, perhaps setting up plans of a lawsuit against JetBlue. Newser is reporting that Slater is HIV positive. A letter sent by JetBlue to its employees, obtained by TMZ, encourages them to utilize a company-provided telephone counseling service. This mess has crossed the line beyond circus and into lunacy!
I am appalled on so many levels by all aspects of this story, but most especially by Cynthia Susanne’s defense of her ex-husband’s actions when she wasn’t even there, and by her making light of the seriousness of what he did.
What are your thoughts?