And I gotta say, the guy made my day.
The funny thing is, I was seated on this flight yesterday -- JetBlue #1052, Pittsburgh to JFK -- next to a lady who was scared to fly. At the outset, she pulled out a rosary and started praying (that's not unusual, especially on a flight from Pittsburgh, which is a heavily Catholic city).
As we ascended, the turbulence was a bit more intense than typical, but nothing to be alarmed over. She was crossing herself and fidgeting, so I told her, "There's nothing to worry about. I've been flying multiple times a month all my life and this is normal."
She thanked me, and we got to talking a bit. I told her the same thing -- "it's totally normal"-- when we heard the bump of the wheels coming down prior to landing.
It was when we stood up to disembark -- in those annoying moments when everyone is waiting to be released from the metal can we've been packed in together -- that Steven Slater commandeered the PA system and issued his rant. I didn't take notes so the following is not exact, but a paraphrase: "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!"
At that point the older Catholic lady looked back at me and crossed herself, and I told her, "No, that is not normal."
College students sitting nearby were laughing. One of them mentioned that a flight attendant had been bleeding and speculated that that might be "the guy" who'd just engaged in the rant.
I missed Slater's inflation of the emergency chute, and didn't know until I woke up this morning about his racing home to Belle Harbor, Queens in his silver Jeep Wrangler and hopping into bed with his boyfriend (leave it to the great New York Post to get those wonderful details).
Overall, it got me to thinking: in a way it's a shame things like this don't happen more often. Let me explain: in an age when, for good reason, authorities are constantly on the alert for terrorists and mass shooters, when any highway altercation, we are warned, can escalate into a gunfight, when eighty-year-old women are forced to relinquish their knitting needles and nursing mothers their bottles of milk at airport screening because of dread of vicious acts of brutality, Americans must restrain ourselves and behave obediently at all times in public places. Current mores leave no room, no outlet, for the venting of frustrations, or for freewheeling, spontaneous behavior of any kind.
No one who would engage in deliberate violence against another person is doing so because of petty frustrations; obviously, something deeper is askew in such an individual. But what about the rest of us? The "normal" decent people who feel fed up with the lack of civility, the many little humiliations, of everyday life? People who would never dream of doing anything violent, and who--because of the actions of a few truly evil people--are prevented from expressing normal frustrations, normal anger, out of (often justified) fear that someone might "go crazy," show up packing a gun, etc.? Sometimes we need to get in someone's face and tell that jerk to f--- off. Likewise, sometimes people just need to get out of a situation, to take an escape, when doing so does not harm anyone else.
Sometimes, in other words, people need to rip off their masks of social nicety and express feelings that are normal.
I did not feel in any way threatened by Steven Slater's rant, and I didn't take it personally. I was not insulted by it, but amused. I'd rather hear a flight attendant relate to me as a human being-- "F--- you all!"-- than be on the receiving end of phony, passive aggressive politeness. So "F--- you, too, Steven Slater, you lucky Motherf-----! Hope you get a book deal out of this!"
That said, I'm glad Slater wasn't the pilot.