Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TAKE THIS JOB...PLEASE!

Hey, did you hear the one about the flight attendant who got into an argument with a passenger who stood up while the Jet Blue airliner was still taxiing at JFK? Yeah, and then the passenger opens the overhead compartment and it hits the flight attendant in the head. Wait, wait…it gets better…the flight attendant gets on the P.A. system, tells all the passengers to go fuck themselves, engages the emergency slide, grabs some beers and slides down to the tarmac. Do you love it?

The story hits the evening newscasts, goes national, and suddenly flight attendant Steven Slater is a new American hero. Sort of a twisted modern-day Horatio Alger. People are talking about him all over the Internet, on Facebook, everywhere you can think of, and most of the comments are singing his praises. What is going on here? Slater was later arrested at his house, charged with a few felonies, but curiously, his bail was set at a measly $2500. How does a guy who has been a flight attendant since 1994 suddenly reach the breaking point and slide away? High drama, you might say, but something tells me a move like that only comes after something has been boiling inside of him for a long, long time. Hey, work with the public for a while and see if you don’t want to slide away.

The hard truth is that a LOT of American workers hate their jobs. How many? Well, in January the AP published poll results that indicated only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. The numbers tell the story. Only 56 percent like their co-workers and only 51 percent like their boss. I once had a co-worker who talked incessantly and who ended every single sentence that came out of her mouth with the phrase, “You know what I’m sayin’?” I had fantasies of standing on top of my desk, in my cubicle and screaming, “Yes, goddammit, we know what you’re saying. We get it. Shut up. Die.” I didn’t. I should have Steve Slatered her.

Steven is this year’s poster kid for job dissatisfaction, but how deep does it run in our culture, and how many
of us feel we are wasting our precious time? How many of us are harboring escapist thoughts, or worse, hatching plans to set off the sprinkler system or slip some ecstasy into the boss’s morning coffee? That brings us to PleaseFireMe.com.

The stated purpose of the web site is: “Since drinking at work is no longer socially acceptable – except on AMC – PleaseFireMe.com is here to get you through the hellish work day. Post your gripe or join the chorus – let the world know you are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The Man might be saying “let them eat cake” in the break room every friggin' day someone has a birthday, but we are starting a new revolution and our rally cry is Please Fire Me.”

Apparently a LOT of people would rather be fired than endure another hour of occupational torture. There are so far 71 pages of comments on the site, each with its own brand of desperation. The comments range from “Please fire me. My boss just typed “google” into the Google search bar,” to “Please fire me. My boss called me a “fucking idiot” and waved a loaded buffalo rifle at my stomach.” And then there’s this: “Please fire me. The woman in the office next to me groans like she’s having an orgasm every few minutes.” And, my personal favorite: “Please fire me. A gay, black, holocaust denier who thinks Hitler was misunderstood is my new “manager”.

The truth is that we spend an inordinate number of hours in our lives working. And if we build up that “hate my job account” inside of ourselves, we’re going to blow like Steve Slater. Or worse. You’ve seen those stories about people going all postal at their places of employment and blowing their co-workers away. Maybe you know the feeling. I’m fortunate in that I do not hate my job, but I used to have jobs that I really hated. Once I had a female boss who cussed a lot and blew cigarette smoke in my face and told me not to be a whiny baby. I swear. When I finally went to her office to resign, I told her I would stay three weeks to make sure everything was in order before I left. Her response? “Well, I guess I should thank you for that. You could have f__ked me in the ass on this one.” I’m telling the truth. Kathy V., you know who you are. And anybody who worked at a hotel in New Orleans in the 1980s that starts with a W and ends in estin knows who I mean, too. What a lady.

I have long since changed careers and found job satisfaction, and I do not take it for granted. The prison-like environment of a job that you hate can push you to the brink. Or worse. Just this past week a man who worked for a beer distributor in Hartford, CT, killed eight co-workers and then himself. Evidently, he too hated his job, and felt the workplace was racist. Omar Thornton had been asked to resign earlier that day.

It brings to mind the vacuous statement, “It’s not personal; it’s business.” Of course it’s personal. It is all personal. Steve Slater was in an interpersonal altercation when he decided to take a slide down to unemployment. And Omar was probably on fire inside. People were reportedly leaving graffiti in the men’s room, pictures of a noose, with the words, “Kill the nigger.” Does it get any more personal than that?

Steve Slater is an instant folk hero with the same message as the fictional Howard Beale in the 1976 film, “Network.” Beale,(left, played by Peter Finch) you will recall, opened the window, stuck his head out and bellowed, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” Just like Slater was mad as hell. Sixteen years of waiting on people inside a sealed tube, 30,000 feet up could do that to a man. And Beale, a creation of master-writer Paddy Chayefsky threatens to kill himself on live TV, just after he is fired. Just like Omar Thornton did away with himself, just after being let go. It’s personal.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook, (the 21st century town square), the crowd is roaring about Steve Slater. No less than six pages have been established about and for him. One of them is titled, “What Would Steve Slater Do?” Its stated purpose: “WWSSD is a place for people to discuss stresses of our workplace in a safe environment. We would like to show our gratitude to the one person who actually did what we all dream about.”

Wow. Just wow.

7 comments:

Rakesh Verma said...

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wubblesful said...

Does no one know how to quit a job they hate, take control of their lives, responsibility for themselves and look for a job that suits them better. People get stuck in this rut and forget that they have free will. You are not helpless, think for yourself, make a plan and take action, before you turn all postal employee.

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