So I was all set to write about a completely different topic today but this morning’s paper had a cover story that was just too good not to write about.
Here’s the short version of the story: a JetBlue flight is returning to a New York City airport but has not landed yet when a passenger gets up and attempts to remove his luggage, stowed in the overhead compartment. A male flight attendant races down the aisle and instructs the man to put his luggage back and return to his seat. The passenger, instead, continues trying to remove his bag, hitting the flight attendant in the head with the suitcase and uttering a string of expletives most often heard on the docks. The flight attendant, having logged over twenty years with JetBlue and other airlines (and who has probably had his share of inconsiderate, irate, and non-rule-following passengers), returns to the front of the plane where he gets on the loud speaker, repeating what the passenger did and said to him, and then utters his own string of unprintable words, the crux of which were “take this job and shove it.” He then waits for the plane to land, grabs a beer from the refrigerator, inflates the emergency slide, throws his own bags down the slide first, and disembarks the plane. In other words, he snapped. He is arrested a few hours later at his home.
I have always thought that air travel had incredible potential for violence and rage because of the cramped quarters, number of people, and general insensitivity and incivility that seem to be commonplace in our society right now. Although I don’t think I would have handled this situation in the same way as the flight attendant, who knows really? After twenty years of being forced to deal with people who think that their schedule, comfort, and well-being is of the utmost priority to the exclusion of everyone else in the plane, I, too may have thrown my bags down the chute and fled.
The flight attendant seems unapologetic about the entire incident but it got me wondering: is his act of civil disobedience just contributing to the problem or just bringing the situation to light? The reason I wonder is that, in my various jobs—from counter girl at a bakery to editor at a publishing company—I have encountered all manner of the rude and ill-intentioned and always kept my mouth shut, invoking “the customer’s always right” mantra, even if it didn’t actually apply. I have always felt that taking the high road was the more appropriate course of action rather than speaking my mind and inciting conflict with either those I work with or those I work for. I’m guessing that the flight attendant was prepared to resign, because it’s clear that his actions will never allow him to be working in a plane full of people again. But was it worth it for that one moment of satisfaction?
What are your thoughts, Stiletto faithful? Has there ever been a situation in which you did what you thought was right under the circumstances and found that, in hindsight, you should have let a cooler head prevail?