The Internet is trying to come to the rescue of Stephen Slater, the most famous (possibly ex-) flight attendant in the world after his dramatic departure from a JetBlue flight on Monday. JetBlue has now publicly acknowledged the incident, has given everyone aboard the Embraer E190 a $100 voucher and is only saying Slater is suspended (even though he said he was quitting). The story has lit up every form of media for the past couple of days and the "I'm not going to take it anymore" groundswell could mean Slater won't have to risk suitcases to the head anymore. Stephen Colbert has already lionized Slater as an Alpha Dog of the Week.
In case you haven't heard, after arguing with a passenger as the airplane approached the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, Slater reportedly announced his resignation (with a few expletives) over the intercom, grabbed a beer from the galley, deployed the emergency slide, and lit out for home. He was arrested later that day at his home in Queens and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing. The last straw for Slater reportedly was a passenger who ignored instructions to stay seated, swore at him, and started to remove bags from the overhead bin, hitting Slater in the head in the process. Slater asked for an apology and the passenger refused, at which point Slater said his goodbyes and left. At the arraignment on Tuesday, his lawyer said Slater was not reckless, and used proper procedures to activate the slide, first checking that nobody on the ground would be endangered by it.
Slater quickly became a kind of folk hero on the Internet, as thousands of workers who could relate to his frustrations expressed sympathy for his reaction. By Tuesday afternoon, one Facebook fan page had 29,296 fans. Several bloggers said the passenger should also be arrested or fined or at least made to apologize. Slater, 39, has been with the airline for 20 years. The airline did not immediately terminate Slater but said in a statement on Tuesday that he had been removed from duty pending an investigation. After his arraignment, Slater did not post the $2,500 bail and remained in police custody.