Steven Slater: From JetBlue Quitter to Latest American Folk Hero?

Online, there's been an outpouring of support for ex-JetBlue flight attendant.

August 11, 2010, 3:30 AM

Aug. 11, 2010 — -- America's got a new hero, and he just got out of jail.

Steven Slater -- the JetBlue flight attendant who quit his job Monday by allegedly cursing out his passengers, grabbing a beer from the beverage cart, and fleeing the plane by deploying the emergency slide -- he has gone from disgruntled employee to man of the hour for his devil-may-care job ditch.

Slater was released on $2,500 bail Tuesday night. He faces charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.

He also faces instant-phenom status. While the law may not be on his side, the outpouring of online support for Slater has been overwhelming. Forget Sully Sullenberger: the Internet's making the angry ex-flight attendant out to be more of a mensch than the captain who safely landed an ailing plane on the Hudson.

"This is the type of exit people who work in the service industry dream about everyday," austenbronte wrote on "Working with the GENERAL public is mundane and rude people like that woman can drive your insane, day after day, after day, after day. WAY TO GO STEVEN! You are free from that daily nightmare, now I wish you good luck in fighting the legal system and the airline, so you can stay out of jail."

On Facebook, the "Steven Slater" fan page is gaining supporters by the minute. As of this morning, more than 100,000 "liked" the page. More than 500 people have joined the "Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund" group. More than a thousand have "liked" another Facebook tribute to him whose title ought not to be used in polite company.

"I'm a pilot myself and I was working with my crew when we heard about this," said Gary Baumgardner, who started the Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund, which is collecting donations via a PayPal e-mail account, So far, the group has amassed $1,500 in online donations; Baumgardner expects more money to flow in via mailed checks.

"We just feel bad. It's just the way that we're treated. We all feel for him," he added.

Artist Dan Lacey is auctioning off a portrait of a sheepish-looking Slater on eBay and donating all the proceeds to him. As of Thursday afternoon, bids exceeded $100.

The airfare tracking site Airfarewatchdog is fueling speculation about who should play Slater in the inevitable movie. (Their vote: Bill Murray. Ours: Danny McBride.)

Steve Slater: JetBlue Flight Attendant Goes From Quitter to Hero

On blogs, you can practically hear the applause and whoops of approval for Slater.

"From one flight attendant to another, BRAVO! BRAVO Steven Slater!," wrote Bobby Laurie on his incredibly aptly named blog, Up Up and a Gay. "I often wonder what (if any) my breaking point will be that'll drive me to quit my job on the spot. I love my job, I really do. But at the same time, its one of the most respect-less and thankless jobs out there and we only get recognized when something fatal happens and a flight attendant saves the day."

Even passengers from Slater's Pittsburgh-to-New-York flight, the very people who saw him lose it after he got bonked by a woman's carry-on bag, are sticking up for him.

"I did not feel in any way threatened by Steven Slater's rant, and I didn't take it personally," passenger Heather Robinson wrote in a Huffington Post blog. "I was not insulted by it, but amused. I'd rather hear a flight attendant relate to me as a human being ... than be on the receiving end of phony, passive-aggressive politeness."

Indeed, the most dramatic real-life job exit in recent memory is the stuff memoirs and movies are made of. Steven Slater's story doesn't even need embelishing to join the "I quit" hall of fame, alongside Andy Sachs, who threw her Miranda Priestly-mandated cell phone in a Parisian fountain in "The Devil Wears Prada."

What he does need is a new gig, all the more reason for his fans in Hollywood and other high places to come calling.

"I hope you can find solitude in your new career," Laurie wrote on Up Up and a Gay, "whatever that may be because it's evident you won't be working for an airline again."

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