Look… I understand how frustrating jobs can be and that sometimes it is so human to want to “stick it to the man.” But that’s where we need to take a breath and rely on our character guidelines. Unless Mr. Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who berated a customer and then exited from his duty by sliding down an emergency chute with a couple of beers, was under the influence of a medical condition that caused his behavior, he acted poorly and wrongly. This is a high profile example of NOT being self accountable or respectful. If the accounts of this event are accurate, he blamed the passengers and the airline for his situation. He then went on to verbally abuse passengers and inconvenience many other flights and passengers with his behavior. Perhaps the comedian Jimmy Fallon best underscored this event with a sad yet somewhat comedic perspective, when he wondered aloud if this behavior got you suspended at Jet Blue, what you would have to do to get fired.
Perhaps the part of this story that is most bewildering is how some in the media and elsewhere are making Mr. Slater a folk hero. I find this simply incomprehensible and a disturbing example of how we’ve allowed outlandish behavior to take precedent over acting with Character. When pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed the plane on the Hudson and his brave team mates calmly helped passengers safely to rescue; we were appropriately introduced to folk heroes. They all acted with character.
We can be compassionate to Mr. Slater and certainly understanding if there are extenuating circumstances. If not, he should sincerely apologize (see my July 16 blog on apologizing), be hopeful to avoid jail time, and become re-employed somewhere. He would be served to act with character and “man up”; take personal responsibility for his actions.
In the meantime Jet Blue did the right thing by the way it respectfully handled the situation with its single blog post on the matter.
For all those flight attendants and passengers who act with character – thank you.