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Was JetBlue Flight Attendant Steve Slater Suffering from Caretaker Fatigue?

Was JetBlue flight atttendant Steve Slater suffering from caretaker fatigue when he undertook the actions that have turned him into a sudden folk hero?

Slater, for those of you who have been living in a media deprivation chamber since Monday, is the flight attendent who soared to Internet fame when, following an altercation with a verbally and physically abusive passenger, he used his airplane’s microphone to engage in a foul mouthed tirade, which ended when he grabbed a brewski and slid down an emergency chute onto the tarmac at a New York City airport.

It has since been revealed that Slater’s mom is suffering from lung cancer and that the flight attendant had been commuting between his New York residence and her home in Southern California to take care of her. He was also a caretaker for his father, a retired airline pilot who died two years ago after a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

One of the major symptoms of caretaker or compassion fatigue is emotional outbursts and a high stress level. It sure sounds like Slater qualifies. Longtime family neighbor Ron Franz certainly seems to think so, telling reporters “He cared for his father during a protracted illness and here he is doing it again and trying to juggle that with a stressful job,” adding “I don’t know what his motivation was. I am just saying those are the conditions that may have influenced him.”

On Tuesday, mom Diane Slater, herself a former flight attendant, came forward to issue a statement of support for her son as she was leaving her house for chemotherapy, saying she would have “snapped worse.”

Steve Slater, after spending more than 24 hours in jail, is now free on a $2,500 bond.

So what do you think? We’re all caretakers here. Do you think this is a man who simply snapped under the pressure of taking care of everyone from ill family members to cranky passengers? Or is there no excuse for this sort of behavior?

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