Stillwater News Press

August 16, 2010

Don't call a guy a hero for losing his cool at work

By Laura Wilson

STILLWATER, Okla. — I’m puzzled by the attitude that the JetBlue flight attendant is a hero for cursing at passengers and releasing a plane’s emergency chute when he quit.

I understand the desire to do what he did. Who hasn’t had a bad day at work and fantasized about telling off the customers who want something they just can’t have? Customers are not always nice. They’re often not considerate of the people trying to help them. Sometimes, you want to be just as rude back.

I worked in a retail store when I was in college. We had one customer who always came into the store about 10 minutes before closing, spent 30 minutes wondering around and then left without buying anything. When we saw her, we knew what would happen, but we showed her clothes and let her try things on because that was our job.

I understand being frustrated with difficult airline passengers, too. If you’ve flown, you’ve seen these people. They have more than their share of carry-on luggage. They want to store it in your space. They leave their seats reclined during dinner service so you can’t put your tray down and won’t put the seats up when the plane is landing.

There are passengers like that on every flight. If you have not seen one, take a look at your behavior because it might be you.

Of course, other passengers on the flight attendant’s flight have come out with stories that contradict his, so his claim of being attacked may not hold water. But even when customers or passengers are difficult, even when they curse at you or hurt you, there are appropriate ways to handle the situation.

Flight attendants have protocols for dealing with unruly passengers. I’m pretty sure that cursing out the entire plane is not one of them.

This guy is not a hero. He’s just a guy who had a hissy fit on the job.

Laura Wilson can be e-mailed at