AP Headline: 'Flight attendant's grand exit is a dream for some'

APabsolutelyPathetic0109It would seem that what JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater did earlier this week was the stuff that some small-minded people's dreams are made of. Would all of you out there who think that way please remove yourselves from jobs that involve contact with the public?

One has to wonder, based on her sympathetic paean to the "take this job and shove it -- but first, I'll get my revenge" crowd, if Associated Press Writer Samantha Gross should be among those who deserve involuntary removal from such positions. Ms. Gross's grotesque near-admiration for others concocting their own supposedly grand exits is my nominee as Exhibit A exemplifying the media's "strange fascination" with the Slater incident and its meaning noted at this morning's open thread at NewsBusters.

Here are some less than exemplary excerpts from Ms. Gross's gruel, including a few paragraphs exemplifying people the AP writer apparently intended to portray as nearly noble (bolds highlighting leftist phraseology and boorish behavior are mine):

Hasn't everyone thought about doing it?

... Defying the rules, telling people off and walking off a job isn't usually a launching pad for public acclaim and admiration. But few have fulfilled that particular working man's fantasy in such grand fashion as JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who left his job via the plane's emergency chute, beer in hand.

It was enough to set America's heart aflutter.

Slater's sudden exit has rekindled memories of workers' liberation - and sparked wistful excitement among workers who have long fantasized of choosing pride over pay.

... After being scolded for the last time by a boss she believed was treating her unfairly while sleeping with the other waitress on her shift, she (waitress Mary Phelps) seriously considered knocking over the giant pot of tomato sauce sitting on the Italian eatery's stove.

Instead, she walked to the front of the restaurant and took orders from six tables sitting down at the beginning of the dinner rush. Then, before bringing anyone so much as a drop of water, she left.

"It felt fantastic. It was a great feeling," she recalls. "It was absolutely no regrets, absolutely. ..." (Phelps's customers who received seriously delayed service were apparently unavailable for comment -- Ed.)

(Chris Carter of Knoxville, who says he has walked out of about half of the jobs he has held) says he still gets a thrill of victory every time he walks out the door.

"When you're not making more than $10 an hour, there's certain things that are not worth putting up with," he says. "I've never allowed myself to get to that point where I feel like I have to put up with this and I have to be somebody's slave."

Gross reports that Carter is only 30 years old and has held "nearly 40 jobs," meaning that he has walked out of nearly 20. You'll have to excuse me for thinking that Carter's dreams might be more about milking the unemployment compensation system -- funded, mind you, by those who put up with their oft-annoying managers and the companies who employ them -- than they are about finding a personally rewarding way to serve his fellow man.

In this culture, it looks like  there's another perfectly good reason why employers are reluctant to hire. Of course, there's the oft-cited regime uncertainty of the Obama administration's legal and regulatory policy and postures. But what about new hire uncertainty? In a culture where significant numbers seem to be treating Slater as a hero, many smaller employers are more likely to either get the work done with the existing help, do without, or contract the required work out to someone else (e.g., a temporary help firm) to avoid the unpleasantness and negative business consequences of someone who thinks he or she can be the next Steven Slater. 

Interestingly, Gross cited no examples of federal government worker walk-offs. I wonder why? There's certainly no shortage of alienation, rudeness, or inattentive behavior. But there is at least one important difference. Uncle Sam's worker walkouts are probably less frequent because federal pay and benefits are on average twice as high as the private sector, according to this Tuesday USA Today report. Why would a person with an attitude problem want to make a grand exit from that, when they can get their perverse satisfaction beating up on customers all day and still keep their jobs?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.