Remember Steven Slater? He was the JetBlue flight attendant whose dramatic exit down an emergency chute at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) made him the poster child for fed-up workers worldwide. Slater just completed his court-ordered treatment program and he's reentering the world with a new perspective.
Slater famously pulled the emergency chute on Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh on Aug. 9, 2010, after the plane landed at JFK. He got on the public-address system and swore at a passenger who he claimed was extremely rude.
'I've had it! Slater proclaimed. To the passenger who called me a motherf----r, f--k you! . . . I'm done!
He then grabbed a beer, and slid down to the tarmac. An hour later, police arrested him at the Rockaway Park, Queens, home that he shared with his boyfriend.
Slater avoided up to seven years in jail for his stunt by pleading guilty to attempted criminal mischief. He agreed to undergo counseling and substance abuse treatment and on Wednesday, he was allowed to withdraw the plea on more serious charges and plead guilty to a lesser charge after he successfully completed his yearlong program.
The 39-year-old walked away with a year's probation and a $10,000 bill from his former employer, JetBlue. He was ordered to pay the airline $831.25 a month.
Slater, who had no history of criminal activity, has said that he simply cracked under pressure because of his terminally ill mother, recently deceased father and personal health problems, including HIV.
A mental-health evaluation determined that Slater had a clinical disorder and alcohol-abuse problems. He was treated at the Queens Mental Health Court.
The former flight attendant told Judge Marcia Hirsch on Wednesday that the court's mental-health program made a difficult time in my life as manageable as possible.
Mr. Slater, are you ready to leave us? the judge asked, to which Slater laughingly replied, Yes.
Hirsch left the bench and handed Slater a diploma while the courtroom erupted with applause.
I'm wishing you good luck in the future, Hirsh said.
The mood was much different than Slater's original hearing last October. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said at the time that it was no laughing matter. He scolded Slater and the public for not taking his actions more seriously.
It reportedly cost $25,000 to fix the slide and the JetBlue plane had to be taken out of service after the incident, causing flight delays. JetBlue also said that the incident was potentially very dangerous as emergency slides can deploy with deadly force.
Slater says he will not fly on JetBlue again, but has enjoyed flying on other carriers.
When I fly, it's actually a lot of fun, Slater told The New York Post. It's very celebratory. There's a lot of high-fives. I'm usually in the galley with the crews. I still end up picking up trash. I end up serving passengers.
He claims to have turned down five offers to star in a reality TV show based on his life. Instead, the former flight attendant, who is 35 pounds lighter, is writing a memoir.
Slater stated that he made just $9,700 in his last year at JetBlue -- less than he did when he started out 20 years before. He hopes that his book will be a tribute of sorts to the overworked, underpaid flight attendants trying to make it in a post-9/11 economy.
I was one person who had a bad day and perhaps acted inappropriately, but I think it resonated with other people, he told The New York Daily News.
I feel like I'm in a much better place, he added. I have control over my life ... I never wanted to be a flash in the pan. That was one moment that was not emblematic of who I am.