If you're anything like me, first off, good luck. It's not easy feat.
Secondly, you smiled big and hard when you read the story about Jet Blue's flight attendant Steven Slater and his dramatic dispute with a passenger. According to The New York Times:
Mr. Slater instructed the person to remain seated. The passenger defied him. Mr. Slater reached the passenger just as the person was pulling down the luggage, which struck Mr. Slater in the head.
Mr. Slater asked for an apology. The passenger instead cursed at him. Mr. Slater got on the plane's public-address system and cursed out the passenger for all to hear. Then, after declaring that 20 years in the airline industry was enough, he blurted out, "It's been great!"
Then, the authorities said, he pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, making a dramatic exit not only from the plane but, one imagines, also from his airline career.
On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart. Then he ran to the employee parking lot and drove off, the authorities said.
Now that's an exit. Not only did he publicly humiliate this woman who decided she was beyond the rules, he gave a fine closing monologue deliciously packed with expletives and added the sublime finishing touch of grabbing a few beers before sliding down an evacuation chute. That, sir, is what you call rock and roll.
The online community has gone wild for this man. Why? Because he represents those of us who retain manners and civility in a society increasingly loaded with rude, entitled morons, testing our patience daily. Because he gave a resounding "fuck you" to a system that he could no longer tolerate. Because he expressed himself, boldly and unabashedly in a world that encourages a tired herd mentality.
The name of the passenger has not been released. Why? Because we'd all want to kill her - or at the least, slam a suitcase in her face, like she carelessly did to him. I wonder how she sleeps tonite. I hope she is worried that people like us are dangerously tired of people like her.
Theories abound that the airlines have become a hotbed of tension since 9/11, hence this dispute in the first place; I disagree. I believe we have been splitting off into two groups for some time: people who maintain basic human consideration and people who don't.
Usually the inconsiderate win, based on sheer garishness. In this case, the considerate person won. (At least in theory. He could still serve seven years behind bars. Go get him, justice system! But make sure those banks and oil companies get off scot-free.)
I often wish my mother had never instilled courtesy and consideration in me. It's a curse, as I spend parts of my day shocked by behavior that I was never allowed to display, nor thought to. I was told that staring is rude, eating before others are served is wrong and "please" and "thank you" are to be said at each and every appropriate time. Like this flight attendant, I try to stay on a civil, good path, considerate of others.
Then I find an elbow in my face.
"Excuse me, but you must be aware that your elbow is dangerously close to my face. Surely your can of beans is not important enough to warrant your total invasion of my personal space," I say to the grunting woman at the grocery store. She ignores me.
"Pardon me, sir. But your child is standing on my foot while I attempt to dine at a fine restaurant. Would you care to take on the job of parenting for a moment and remove said child before I eat his head for dinner?"
"I know your conversation is terribly important but we've been on a bus for an hour and your incessant hen-style yapping has grown tiresome. I know it's a crazy concept for people like you to conceive but I don't care to ever hear the details of your droll life."
Yes, I'm being "snarky" as they say. But what choice have I? What choice did Steven Slater? One reaches a breaking point when common decency seems like it was run over by a piece of white trash in a Humvee.
And if it were only about decorum! Unfortunately, people like this rude passenger have far-reaching implications on our sad, fatigued planet.
Several days ago, I watched two fishermen flick their cigarettes into the ocean, while they got in touch with their "manhood" and "nature." I picked the butts up and handed them back to them. They wouldn't take them of course ("What's your problem, crazy bitch!), so I dropped them in one of their bags. Rudeness has a ripple effect that hurts more than feelings.
All Steven Slater asked for was an apology. A simple apology would have dismantled his rage. I wish I could have been there to explain that people like that woman have no clue how to apologize, unless they're forced. (And then, really, is it an apology?) An apology implies a sense of empathy and kindness that this woman is simply incapable of possessing.
He requested a civil response for a rude act. The poor man thought that antiquated logic might work with the chronically entitled and rude. Like me, he learned that when people do something wrong, an apology will naturally follow.
And he responded the way most of us want to, when someone puts our lives at risk on the road, so they can advance one car ahead. Or when people stare at you in times of need, instead of helping. Or when someone hurts your feelings (or in this case, your head) and all you want is some basic human acknowledgment to lessen the pain. Really basic human stuff!
What happened to Steven Slater is what happens to many of us, every day. He hit a natural breaking point. Luckily he had an evacuation chute. I'm still looking for mine.
Hats off, Mr. Slater.