Yesterday a JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater, made a dramatic departure from his job after a passenger on his flight refused to follow the rules. The meltdown occurred when Slater told a passenger not to remove bags from the overhead compartment until the plane was stopped. When his request was ignored, the 39-year-old Slater took to the intercom and declared: "To the fucking asshole that told me to fuck off, it's been a good 28 years!" He then grabbed a couple of beers, activated the emergency chute, grabbed his bags, and slid to his freedom.
Well, almost. Shortly after the Port Authority police busted him at his home in Queens (where he was already resting easy in bed with his boyfriend), but even the 50 cops that showed up couldn't kill his buzz from (those beers and) quitting his post at Jet Blue—plenty of photos and video show him smiling while in custody. He allegedly told investigators that he took his personal belongings from the plane, too, "Oh, yes. I threw the bags onto the chute. Then I slid down after them."
Slater has been charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. Passenger Phil Catelinet told the TODAY show that Slater "was smiling—he was happy he had done this. He was happy he was done with his job at JetBlue." Slater is HIV positive, and also a recovering alcoholic who previously battled substance abuse problems. A couple of years ago he wrote on his MySpace page, "I am enjoying being back in the skies. Beating alcoholism and substance abuse one day at a time." As if that weren't enough, Slater is also dealing with his mother dying of lung cancer; neighbors told the Daily News "the prognosis is not good."
TMZ has the scoop from the family's end, saying "Slater told his mom he tried shutting the bin, when [the passenger] 'maliciously' pulled the bin down, striking Steven in the head." Meanwhile, the NY Times talked to those peripherally in Slater's life, who overwhelmingly called him a "very conscientious, responsible individual.”