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Steven Slater: An Iconic Working Class Hero In An Era of Rampant Unemployment


water cooler                  logoThe Age of the The Great Recession has made many working class citizens lives a living hell in this country. Many people are working reduced-hours, taking paycuts to save their jobs, and taking upon many more responsibilities. That's if you're lucky enough to have a job.

Many estimate that the real national unemployment rate could be as high as 15-17% when you take into account people who are unemployed and who have either stopped looking for work or no longer collect benefits. This easily makes the job market the worst it's been since The Great Depression.

Being so lucky to have a job comes with other non-perks such as being treated poorly by your boss and enduring the wrath of customers when you're in the service industry. Everybody has a breaking point and even if household income is at stake, many of us fantasize about quitting on the spot and achieving catharsis. This brings us to Steven Slater, the now-famous former employee of Jet Blue who couldn't take it anymore and quit his job the other day in style.

In case you missed it, Slater quit his job as a flight attendant the other day when a passenger refused to sit down upon being requested by him to do so. The customer then cursed out Mr. Slater who proceeded to get onto the intercom and let loose a profanity-laced rant directed at said customer. He then grabbed two beers, opened up the emergency door and slid down the plane's emergency chute while yelling, "I've had it!"

Slater went from unknown to superstar within the span of 48 hours. He quit on Monday and now is a hero to millions of working class Americans who have "had it" their own way each and every day.

Even though he has been charged with reckless endangerement and criminal mischief, he won't be forgotten by Americans anytime soon. Thanks to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, Steven Slater's celebrity has reached iconic status. There is even a Facebook page set up for Steve Slater's legal defense fund.

He faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted. Any judge in their right mind should give Mr. Slater a slap on the wrist. He meant no harm and was merely sending a message that millions of us would love to send to people who make our lives much harder during our work days.

Dennis Bakay can be reached at dbakay@philly2philly.com