Steve Slater

The internet is all abuzz with Steve Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who grabbed a beer and “took the chute,” but not before telling the woman who hit him with a suitcase to do go and do something biologically impossible.

At the latest count he has over 50 thousand Facebook fans, and musicians are singing ballads to him and posting them on YouTube.  He’s become  a contemporary folk hero, an “Everyman.”

And why?

Because he “took the exit” out of a  job he was clearly sick and tired of, and he did it with a flourish.

That’s it. That’s all he did, and now he’s a “hero.”

CNN says lots of people are “resonating with him” and because of this he is getting his 15 minutes of fame.

Just for losing it.  Just for publicly flipping out.

Lots of people would love to have the ‘nads to do what Steven Slater did.  Lots of people apparently fantasize about telling the companies and the people they work for to do the deed to themselves, and then flame out in a grand style.

I think it should never have come to this for Steve Slater, or for anyone who is unhappy with their job.

I know this sounds like me being the yoga teacher here, but I can’t help thinking, “What if Steve Slater had a yoga practice?”  What if he devoted just 20 minutes everyday to sitting quietly, dropping into his breath, breaking up tension patterns in his body with some nice stretches, and then setting an intention for his day?  Would he have then known clearly, and a long time ago, that the industry had changed, and he was no longer suited for this job?

Might this practice have sweetened him to the point where he could have developed some compassion for all the people in planes and their stress-filled lives?  Would grouchy, rude travelers have the same effect on him if he had taken care of his spiritual hygiene with as much dedication as most people give to brushing their teeth and shaving?

Did Steve Slater miss an opportunity to be a Linchpin?

Could Steve Slater have written a different story for himself?

I can’t help thinking what it would take, how someone would have to “train” in order to operate mindfully in a stressy job like being a flight attendant?

When I think of my yoga students, I know at least a few who are really unhappy with their jobs a lot of the time, but because they have a practice, the pressure gets released at regular intervals, so if they ever did decide that “enough was enough” they would be able to quit quietly, sanely, and have the understanding of their bosses.

Whenever people refuse to do jobs they are unsuited for, they leave room for what they are suited for to come forth.  It’s hard to leave the known for the unknown, but it has to be done for growth to occur.

I hope Steve Slater comes to his senses and sees this episode as something he did in a moment of temporary insanity: he reached his edge and jumped, instead of just quietly quitting a job that had become unsatisfying and impossible for him.

If he did it that boring way though, he might only have 50 friends on Facebook, and certainly no CNN reporters would be stalking him for a comment.

As it stands now, he’s probably going to spawn a whole rash of copycat “exit chuters” who will find spectacular ways to torch their own bridges at work, rather than work on ways of finding their true vocations, their highest calling.