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Salesmanship: Stephen Slater is no hero

by Warren Tyler

There are so many lessons to be learned and so many things wrong with this story, it becomes difficult to sort the issues. However, allow me to try.

If this was just the story of a poor, pathetic, working class stiff who did what many in his situation would want to do but wouldn’t dare, the tale would be easy. In other words, “Take this job and shove it!”

It’s impossible for me to imagine staying on a job where I hated my boss for an instant. I believe that for readers of FCNews who are mainly business people and salespeople that have no reason to hate their boss, it would be hard to empathize with this situation.

However, this situation was different. Stephen Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who told not only his employer to “shove it” but his customers, too, was an educated person, and given the nature of his work rarely reported to a single person with whom he could develop working class hatred. What disappointed me was the unbelievable numbers of Americans who sympathized with Slater. They thought this was a “take this job and shove it” moment, which meant an incredible amount of Americans hate their jobs and viewed him as a hero.

Rather than just hating his boss, Slater finally hit the breaking point with his customers, the flying public who paid his wages. This brings me to wonder how any American could sympathize with Slater over the customers’ bad behavior and thought he was a hero for telling the customers where to go. As customers they were on the other side of the issue, which is impossible for me to believe.

It is like me going into a store, receiving bad service and complimenting the clerk over the bad service. Has this country gone completely bonkers? Common sense would dictate that no matter what, the American public should be appalled at Slater’s behavior and he should be ashamed of himself.

Slater, a long-time employee, went through ongoing training, and some of it should have dealt with how to handle difficult customers using human skills, just as every reader of this column has to do every working day. Then again, flight crews can now have customers arrested.

There is a clue as to what may have caused this breakdown, and given the facts it’s a wonder more Slaters haven’t appeared. There was a day when all flight attendants were young and beautiful, impeccably dressed and manicured, wore white gloves and were there at the passengers’ beck and call. Service was the only issue. Now the pilot states that flight attendants are here to ensure passengers’ safety. This is a complete abrogation of customer service. Gone are the days when the flight attendants’ primary function was to get me a drink when I want it and right away.

Flight attendants have been given Gestapo powers and most act like it. The airlines don’t care. First class is more cramped than coach nowadays, and flying is misery. Not that the entire blame is on the airlines. If it were up to me I would institute a “no-shirt, no- shoes, no-service” policy that would deny boarding to unkempt individuals. No one wants to sit next to a sweaty person in an undershirt, cut-offs and flip-flops.

The only issue here is lack of real customer service and customers who don’t look and act as animals.