By now, you've probably heard about Steven Slater. You might not recognize the name, but when I add that he's the flight attendant who launched into a tirade on the PA system of an airplane, activated the emergency chute, grabbed some beer, and then slid away, you'll probably remember hearing about him. 

He's been a flight attendant for years. But on this fateful (for him) day, he'd had enough. A passenger hit him with a bag and swore at him, and the resentment of decades could no longer be ignored. 

Now he's everywhere:

CNN calls him "a folk hero of sorts". Why is he being embraced so passionately? Well, said some woman on CNN, he did what so many of us dream of doing: quitting in a spectacularly public fashion. Many of us understand what it is to be gradually beaten down by a thankless job, and we can live vicariously through him.

Fair enough. That makes sense. We all relate to the poor sod who's been repeatedly trodden on by an uncaring public. One question, though: who, then, sees him or herself as part of that uncaring public? Because there are lots of people in that group. Steven Slater may have been driven to escape via chute by one particular person, but it's clear his revolt was the product of years of ill-treatment. When we hear this story, we're so quick to align ourselves with him, with the underdog, but what if we're the reason he hated his job? What if we are the repugnant, selfish, unrepentant public? 

It reminds me of the "I just give too much" people. You know them. They say things like, "I just give too much to other people. I have to learn to put myself first." Invariably, these people are the most selfish, irritating, self-righteous prigs around. And also invariably, when one hears one of those prigs trumpet his or her self-abnegation, one thinks, "That's so eerie. That's just like me. I totally give too much, too." Does anyone ever say, "You know what? I absolutely do not give too much. In fact, I take too much from other people. I have to stop being such a selfish jackass"?

It's easy to identify oneself with the mistreated, the overlooked, the beaten down. But don't forget, someone's also doing the mistreating, the overlooking, and the beating. That someone could be you. It can't be me, because my problem is that I give too much.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.
8/11/2010 05:08:57 am

That I just called a customer in my store a fucking asshole seems all of a sudden not only not bad, but entirely right. Thanks, Steven! Thanks, Catastrophizer!


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