An Animated Reminder of Why That Jet Blue Flight Attendant Story Just Won’t Go Away

Steven Slater

* See updates below.

Remember that incident with the Jet Blue flight attendant going over the edge and quitting his job in a profane jump down the plane’s emergency chute after an altercation with a passenger earlier this week?

I know, I know  — how could anyone, anywhere forget given the relentless media onslaught ?

Well, it won’t die because it seems to have touched a nerve with a lot of people, especially in a time when so many workers are fed up with their jobs and working situations, and would simply love to drop kick their job in style with an over-the-top version of “Take this job and shove it.”

And now, there is an animated version of what happened on that Jet Blue plane available here for your viewing pleasure, just in case you haven’t gotten enough of this story. And, you don’t need to speak Chinese to enjoy it.

According to The Wall Street Journal‘s China Realtime Report:

NextMedia Animation, which bills itself as Asia’s largest animation studio, has made its name online by producing computer-animated dramatizations of news events, including details of the Wikileaks documents and the fateful night at Tiger Woods’s home.

The Taiwan-based studio’s latest work tells the tale of Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who left work Monday after a profanity-laced address to a plane full of passengers, exiting the aircraft via the emergency chute at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Slater joins the ranks of Lindsay Lohan (portrayed driving a suspiciously familiar Volkswagen), Sarah Palin and reality-TV personality Snooki in NextMedia’s cast of digitized personalities.

Yes, Steven Slater is a folk hero to many people, but my view is that this incident resonates with so many people (even in Taiwan) for two reasons:

  1. Because just about everyone who has been on an airplane in the last 10 years — and especially after 9/11 — can attest to the terribly demeaning and soul-crushing state of air travel; and,
  2. Because of the long recession and economic downturn that has beaten and battered America’s workforce, leaving both those who are employed and unemployed bitter and angry at what the state of the working world has become.

Although Jet Blue’s public response to this incident has been slow and curious, I disagree with people who believe that this story is starting to fade and has run its course.

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On the contrary: it’s summer, it’s slow, and people are tired of news about the oil spill and Afghanistan. Sometimes, all it takes is a disgruntled flight attendant with a flair for a dramatic exit to rile people up and remind them of how sometimes, even the most downtrodden and put upon worker can decide to stand up and tell the world how they really feel.

Take this job and shove it, indeed.

UPDATE No. 2: You know that the “take this job and shove it” aspect of this story is resonating with people when The Associated Press serves up a trend story (found here in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) on the topic of people getting fed up enough with their jobs to quit in a public and spectacular way.

Hasn’t everyone thought about doing it?

When the cubicle started to feel more like a prison than a calling? When the bossiest boss had a smile that was just too smug? When the piddling wage seemed not to be worth the aggravation?

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.”

UPDATE NO. 2: A Jet Blue memo calls Steven Slater’s actions “unacceptable.” 

UPDATE: Now questions are being raised about whether the incident with a passenger that supposedly set off Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater even happened, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Officials said Steven Slater’s assertion that he was hit in the head by luggage or an overhead bin door while trying to assist an abusive passenger with her oversize bag isn’t being corroborated by other passengers. Investigators believe such a passenger may not exist and that he could have received the gash on his forehead before he boarded the flight in Pittsburgh.

“There’s certainly a decent amount of doubt at this point,” said a Port Authority official familiar with the investigation.

JetBlue is also in the dark. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a memo to employees that says, “Was there an altercation on the flight that precipitated or motivated Mr. Slater’s action? It’s unclear.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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