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Why America loves JetBlue's Steven Slater
The flight assistant's dramatic onboard freak-out has captured the country's attention and earned him — for better or worse — cult hero status
 
The JetBlue flight attendant was arrested after deploying the plane's emergency slide in a non-emergency situation.
The JetBlue flight attendant was arrested after deploying the plane's emergency slide in a non-emergency situation.
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Flight attendant Steven Slater's become something of a national hero after his notorious bout of air rage on a JetBlue plane — provoked by a dispute with an irascible passenger — and his dramatic exit from his workplace. Minutes after the craft landed at New York's John F. Kennedy airport, Slater reportedly used the plane's address system to utter a profanity, popped the inflatable emergency evacuation slide, grabbed a couple of beers from the hospitality cart, and slid away to freedom. Though he was later arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, he's since been described as a "working-class hero" and a "folk hero," and an online campaign has already raised $1,400 towards his legal defense. Why has Slater's story so enraptured America? (Watch a local report about Steven Slater's "heroic" exit)

He lived our dreams: Call Steven Slater the "Susan Boyle of fed-up employees," says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. A humble flight assistant on Monday morning, he was a "viral sensation" by the evening, simply by quitting his job in "fame-worthy" style. "Oh, he dreamed a dream alright." It was a "win for working stiffs everywhere" and, for anyone with a "soul-sucking" job, "a reminder that we actually do have a choice in life." 
"Steve Slater: Working-class angst goes viral"

Anyone who has ever flown can relate: In an "era where a bag of peanuts and soda can is a meal" and passengers lug unwieldy carry-on bags to avoid surcharges, says Jason Paur at Wired, it's a wonder more people don't snap like Slater did.  
"The Drunk, Injured and Bizarre World of Air Rage"

It's the recession: As this downturn drags on, says James Poniewozik at Time, "stressed-out American workers" are either forced to stay in jobs they hate or languish in unemployment. And those lucky enough to be employed are finding "you're often expected to do more and more to push productivity up." It's no wonder that Slater's "Take This Job and Shove It sensibility" is alluring. We're all exhausted by this recession.
"Steven Slater, Road Warrior: JetBlue mints a folk hero"

It's all about the beer: What has made Slater an "instant Internet icon," says Joel Achenbach at The Washington Post, is his alcoholic-beverage choice and the bravado of taking it just before he slid out of sight. "That's the Animal House meets Airplane note." Slater's name "will become a verb, just watch." Next time you're desperate to leave somewhere, just "grab a beer and slater on out of there."
"The Jet Blue flight attendant — and pulling a slater"

 

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