Steve Slater to McNugget rage: Customer service or customer to blame?
JetBlue flight attendant Steve Slater vented plenty of job frustration before sliding to fame. Now comes the case of McNugget rage in which a McDonald's customer attacks employees. Is workplace anxiety rising?
The customer isn't always right, after all.Skip to next paragraph
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That's a subtext of two workplace tales that have emerged in the news this week: JetBlue flight attendant Steve Slater's dramatic slide to fame and the case of "McNugget rage" by a belligerent customer at a McDonald's drive-through window.
Whether or not Mr. Slater was justified in his behavior, he was instantly embraced by legions of Americans as a working class hero, symbolizing the trials of harried employees nationwide.
"That Steven Slater did what most of us dream about," one Californian emoted on Twitter.
In part, Americans are collectively anxious about a recession-bound economy: stagnant pay and uncertain prospects if you quit a job you don't like.
But there's more: For people who work in jobs that involve lots of customer service, a common peeve is that customers too often are overly demanding, abusive, or even downright violent.
The McNugget incident is a case in point. A security-camera video that became public this week, taken earlier this year, shows a drive-through customer punching employees and smashing the sliding window because she couldn't get Chicken McNuggets. The customer, Melodi Dushane, said she was drunk at the time, according to the Associated Press. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail and ordered to pay for the broken window.
And whether you call it heroism or not, the video shows the McDonald's employees showing some poise under pressure. They move without skipping a beat to serve the next drive-through customer.
The JetBlue incident has drawn more public attention, but appears to be a more complicated story. News reports Wednesday quoted passengers on the flight saying that Slater himself inflamed a dispute with a passenger trying to remove baggage and deplane, before he voiced his frustration over the public-address system and deployed the emergency chute. Other reports say the attendant had behaved oddly and unprofessionally throughout the short flight from Pittsburgh to New York.
The incident, however, has prompted other flight attendants to come forward with tales of rude behavior by customers.
"I've been glared at, verbally abused, threatened with lawsuits and recriminations from God simply because I asked a passenger to comply with the rules," flight attendant Elliot Hester wrote on the CNN website Thursday.