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I quit, and I'm taking the beer

August 11, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

Another day, another aviation hero.

Flight attendant Steve Slater might not get the national love and acclaim of Capt. Sully, but in my mind he's just as worthy, after he did a full Anthony Weiner on an obnoxious passenger before activating the plane's inflatable emergency slide and jumping out, popping a beer as he went.

That's inspiring on so many levels that I barely know where to start. It's gotta rank in the top five ways to quit your job. The only way it could have been better would have been if the plane were still in the air and he had been sitting on a nuclear bomb.

In fact, I'm thinking that every job created from here on out ought to come with its own inflatable emergency slide, so when you finally get fed up and quit, you can do it in style. I'm sure Obama can come up with a law requiring this; he wants one for everything else.


As I sit here at my computer, the story has just broken, and as time goes by, more facts are likely to come to light -- so I better hurry up and write this now. I don't want any new "facts" or "details" to interfere with the story as I now know it, which is just too good to be true.

Our hero, Mr. Slater -- he needs a heroic nickname; I'll call him Slatty -- was an attendant on board a JetBlue Pittsburgh-to-New York flight that had just landed in the Big Apple.

A passenger ignored the standard directive to stay seated until the plane stops at the gate, and went for his bag in the overhead. Slatty tried to tell the lawless passenger to sit down, but the man refused and things became heated. At one point, Slatty was sworn at and was hit in the head (picture a star with the word "Pow!" written inside) with a carry-on bag.

But our hero did not go down. Instead, he reached for his Secret Weapon: the airline's PA system (Zounds!). Slatty proceeded to swear at the passengers, using the same word the passenger had helpfully provided.

Then, says the New York Times, "He activated the inflatable evacuation slide at service exit R1 (Whoosh!); launched himself off the plane (Zing!); ran to the employee parking lot; and left the airport in a car he had parked there. On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart (Slurp!)."

The beer is really the crowning touch, isn't it? I mean, he could have cussed out the passengers, deployed the emergency exit and run to his car, but without the beer it all comes across as kind of a meaningless freak-out.

The beer takes a Ron Artest moment and turns it into James Bond.

It also qualifies him for Most Interesting Man in the World status: "I don't always drink beer. But when I do, I go ape on a bunch of slumdogs in coach."

But beyond it all, this does something that flight attendants should have done a long time ago: Jumped ugly. They have been too nice for too long. "Yes, I'll bring you a pillow. Please let me help you with your bag. Would you like another drink? Just push the button if you need anything else."

How many times have you been in your seat and seen a flight attendant trying to reason with a passenger who's channeling his inner first-grader? And you wish that she'd just haul off and slap him across the face. And sometimes, I think they should slap passengers at random, just to keep everybody honest.

Sure, the authorities will come after poor Slatty, charging him with all kinds of high crimes and misdemeanors for something that never would have happened if the passenger had just had some manners.

But I'll bet it will be a while before anyone on a JetBlue flight stands up to get his bag before the plane docks.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at"> Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under">, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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