Making a Grand Exit

By now you’re very likely to have heard about Steven Slater, the US JetBlue flight attendant who spat the dummy and activated the aircraft’s emergency slide once his flight landed. He abused passengers then grabbed a couple of beers before heading out on the emergency slide.

He was later arrested and could spend up to seven years in prison.

A New York Times report says that after 20 years working as a flight attendant, one final disagreement with a passenger was one disagreement too much for Slater.

One passenger stood up to retrieve belongings from the overhead compartment before the crew had given permission. Mr. Slater instructed the person to remain seated. The passenger defied him. Mr. Slater reached the passenger just as the person was pulling down the luggage, which struck Mr. Slater in the head.

Mr. Slater asked for an apology. The passenger instead cursed at him. Mr. Slater got on the plane’s public-address system and cursed out the passenger for all to hear. Then, after declaring that 20 years in the airline industry was enough, he blurted out, “It’s been great!” He activated the inflatable evacuation slide at a service exit and left the world of flight attending behind.

While what Steven Slater did was illegal and dangerous, many people around the world have made him a hero. I’m guessing that there are a lot of people who feel hostility toward their workplace and wish that they could make an equally grandiose exit.

I’m wondering if you’ve ever made a spectacular exit from a job or if you’ve ever dreamed of it. What have you done or what would you like to have done to say a suitable goodbye to a workplace? I’d love to hear your story or your dreams of what you wish you could do. Just leave a few thoughts in the comments section of this post.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • Well, I haven’t ever really done it, but here are some stories …

    1. I was working as a teller supervisor at a credit union on the day Johnny Paycheck died. It was a stressful time, and some of my tellers were discussing the merits of going to the upstairs offices and singing a chorus of “Take This Job and Shove It.”

    2. I had a job as a linen delivery service driver, which was pretty miserable. I started my day in Somersworth, NH and had my first stop in Augusta, ME. That’s about two hours driving before I started delivering anything.

    I fantasized about abandoning my truck somewhere and calling my boss to say, “Your truck is somewhere in Maine. I quit. Good luck!”

    I tend to think that it’s miser and more civilized NOT to burn those bridges and behave like that … but it is fun to fantasize. I have mixed reactions to the Slater story. Part of me reacts negatively because of how he acted, but I just can’t take it too seriously.

    • I believe his actions were foolish. It seems there were reasons, beyond the immediate ones, for what he did but it was still over the top.

      Like you, I have sometimes had thoughts of making a grand exit but have been so glad that I’ve had the self control not to burn bridges.

      Great stories by the way. 🙂

  • I worked as a trainee in an Architectural office in a job so bad, after a while my stomach hurt. One morning I took the 40-km-drive, parked the car, thought very spontanously, “it´s enough”.
    Went in said I have to quit and asked for my papers to be sent home.

    Spontanous, but friendly.

    This “current” job (I have for about 9 years), I love 🙂

    It´s always stupid to act like Slater did. Lucky thing he didn´t hurt anyone…
    A hero? Not in my eyes.

    • I’m sure that a lot of people have felt that sense that ‘enough is enough’ and it’s time to go but it’s always better to leave like you did so that future prospects aren’t damaged.

      He’s certainly not a hero to me.

  • My first job after I got out of the military was working retail. I spent months being verbally abused by customers and was so tired of it. One afternoon there was only two of us workers in the whole store for some reason and a customer wanted help with the crystal. I didn’t know ANYTHING about the crystal and told him so. He began yelling at and insulting me. I went to the break room, grabbed my purse, and walked out of the store. No one ever called me or asked what happened, so I think that type of thing happened a lot there. I returned a week later for my final check.

    I’m not proud of what I did that day, but I certainly understand the flight attendant’s feeling of being fed up.

    • I do wonder what makes some people think that they’ll get better service if they abuse those who are serving them.

      I just don’t understand how people can make it all the way to adulthood and still think it’s OK to throw tantrums that would earn a two year old a smack.

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