I guess I just wasn't as appalled as I was supposed to be when I heard about the headline-grabbing antics of Steven Slater. After an altercation with a passenger, the Jet Blue flight attendant got mad as hell and decided that he wasn't gonna take it anymore. Grabbing the mike, Slater announced his resignation Norma Rae style, then deployed the inflatable chute, slid down, hopped into his car and drove off. According to a neighbor, it only took fifty cops to apprehend him upon his arrival at home.
I'm not saying that sitting on a crowded plane and watching such an escapade unfold would be all that much fun in these National Security-sensitive times. But have we considered the plight of the flight attendant?
There was a time when, not only could we smoke on airplanes, we could filch as many of those little booze bottles as our laps could handle, and the giveaways -- regardless of class -- were plentiful: Blindfolds, slippers, headphones, and playing cards. You could watch a poorly edited version of a crappy movie and not feel compelled to finish, because it was free. Flight attendants were called stewardesses, they only came in one gender, and on any given trip, at least one of them looked like Ursula Andress.
9/11 ushered in the era of "travel restrictions" -- no more peanuts, ten-dollar pressed turkey sandwiches, suspicious shampoo bottles, and the possible use of a writing implement as a deadly weapon. Some airlines went out of business; others simply cut back on amenities and staff.
The result? Late and/or canceled flights, no fun whatsoever, and planeloads of irritable fliers. So can you blame Steven Slater for losing it after a passenger told him to fuck off and brained him with his carry-on?
Sully Sullenberger was a hero. But he didn't have to deal with what goes on outside the cockpit.