Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why I Completely Understand Steven Slater--and Pray for Him

Steven Slater was a flight attendant on the cut rate airline JetBlue who has had his 15 minutes now for the fit he threw last Monday at JFK. More details have come out, some of which cast Mr. Slater in a less heroic light. Some have said he was irritated all flight, some have said he was drinking during the flight. Yada yada. And now, he would like to have a job as a flight attendant again.

As I said on my post on Observer, this is not a man who hated his job IMO. By and large, I imagine he really liked his job most days. But this obviously was not "most days." His father had died in the recent past. His mother had cancer and/or ALS--I saw both--sometimes the news is like a giant game of "telephone." He was divorced. It looks like he was gay. He did have some sort of S.O. relationship, but how tight that is is unknown, whether it went beyond being a casual acquaintance and sex partner to a good deep monogamous relationship that really gave support. There was the presence of recovery lingo on his My Space page and some indication from friends and relatives that alcohol had been an issue at times. He had worked in the airline industry since 1990--with occasional breaks but always finding his way back onto airplanes. It's obvious it was--it is--in his blood, but then...this.

It cuts deep, it does. That one moment when your decision making functions are overridden by...something and stuff comes out of your mouth, rolls off your tongue, and maybe it feels good at the time, seems cool and all...and then you realize that that shit is not gonna fly with the powers that be, and it's either obvious, or some clown comes flying out of the woodwork with accusations all bundled up against you, and you have no real defense other than it was not one of your better days and...the thing you loved is taken away from you, you can't do it any more because of these stupid things you said and/or did and you feel like the biggest doofus in the fucking world...

Yes, that's you Steven Slater. And that's me, The Observer, RN.

You know what our mistakes were, Mr. Slater? Trying this living stuff solo. It cannot be done. Humans are made to live in community, with others touching us on a regular basis. We can try to substitute stuff. Work. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. Hobbies. But really, we are designed to live with two things in our lives.

Each other. God.

We can't carry the load of lost parents and lost loves, lost opportunities and lost wishes, and all the other "losts" that come our way without being a part of others' lives. And they parts of our lives. I don't know Mr. Slater's spiritual situation. But being a Christian does not remove this need. If anything, it makes it more obvious, brings it out in bold relief.

And now, Mr. Slater, you are praying that there is one airline out there willing to give you a chance. Because you have learned, or are learning, that you cannot fly life solo. The only problem is the lesson came at the cost of something so dear to you. The work you love. The security of a regular paycheck. The ability to live life without worrying about your daily bread and the freedom to give from your blessing.

I wish you every opportunity to gain that second chance. Because I've been looking for mine, really, since 2001. That's how long it's been since I had a "regular" job. When I saw your story, one of my very first thoughts was "I hope he doesn't change his mind about abandoning the work of a flight attendant. Because it will be very difficult for him to find a new job."

Can you forgive yourself for throwing it all away?

This post has just stunned me. I wrote it the way I write all my blog posts: I have a general idea of where I want to go, but I don't plan it out. I just start writing and see what happens. Sometimes it's a straight line. Sometimes a crooked line. Sometimes, it feels like I am handling TNT, like the post rebutting Lewis Duigiud. Sometimes it ends up someplace completely different than where I was headed.

And sometimes, it's a bombshell. This is the sort of thing I was thinking of when I started this blog. This that I don't want the whole world to see, but the few who have this url, I don't fear them. A lot of them are CR people, and if they read this, they understand.

My emotional behavior has hurt my career terribly. There is no doubt about that. I have repented, worked and learned from every incident.

Have I forgiven myself? For VA, 2008? For Trinity, 2001?

A very good question.

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