These stories always come out of the blue. Or, in the case of Steven Slater, JetBlue. And what amazes me more than the flight attendant's movie-like outburst is the way seemingly ordinary people like him become overnight heroes.
Thanks to social media and the morning news programs, Slater has become a modern day Johnny Paycheck, the country singer famous for his anthem telling the boss what he could do with his under-paying, over-demanding job. Slater has tapped into that part of every worker's brain that dreams of quitting on the spot, of just saying no to deadlines, sales quotas, mandatory meetings and inconsiderate customers.
The story, particularly the ending, sounds like something you'd see in a Will Ferrell movie. Long-time flight attendant has run-in with unhappy passenger. Flight attendant ends up being hit in head by overhead compartment door. Instead of apologizing, passenger curses flight attendant.
That leads flight attendant to go on the P.A. system and unleash a tirade complete with expletives. He then activates the emergency inflatable slide, grabs two beers and slides off the plane in quite possibly the grandest exit from a job ever.
If you saw it in a movie theater, it would make for great laughs. For those who witnessed it in person, I'm sure they still can't believe what they saw. Or that the major networks are calling to ask about it.
Slater was later arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Despite the charges, he's being hailed as a hero, lauded on Facebook and Twitter alike. People have offered to contribute to his defense fund and websites are asking readers for their "last straw" moments.
It's hardly the most important story of the day, but you can bet it's one of the most talked about. Pitches are probably already being made for a reality show about him, or one about flight attendants in general. A prime time interview can't be far off.
All for a guy who dared to do what others only dream about. But emulators, beware. For most, acts like this bring an end to your pay days, not a beginning.
E-mail Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.