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I suppose this morning around the country, hundreds of thousands of people are contemplating “pulling a Slater,” like the Jet Blue flight attendant of that name, and ditching their lousy bosses, jobs, customers and the boring and abusive routines of their everyday lives. Hundreds will probably do it now, or soon, inspired by the story of this long-suffering flight attendant. This incident illustrates one aspect of human nature I learned as a boy, going to the movies in Berwyn. I found, through trial and error, that if I crossed or uncrossed my legs, the person on the side of me in the movies was likely to soon do it as well. I call it the copy-cat reflect. Public relations and marketing professionals, and political operatives, know they can use that reflex as a tool to influence behavior. Plus, of course, we all know what it is to over react to a situation, and do or say things we might regret. Slater might come out ahead on all this, if he’s clever and lucky, as sometimes, being an involuntary copycat or over reacting can build insights, if one survives the experience, and has the wisdom to learn from it.

August 2010

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