How I got Starbucked at a Hampton Inn
verb, past participle
Asked to leave a commercial establishment because one is not paying for the services he or she is using.
Ten years ago, I got Starbucked at a Hampton Inn in West Virginia. I found the experience sufficiently memorable at the time that I translated it into a Seussian poem titled, "How the Grinch Stole My Wi-Fi."
On this occasion, I was driving from Virginia to western New Jersey. Not knowing the best route, I started looking for a place where I could seek out the answer.
IT WAS then that I spotted a Hampton Inn
And to me this seemed a happy win-win.
You see, I had stayed at a Hampton the night before
And liked it enough to try one once more.
I had no need, of course, to spend the night
My needs were so little as to be less than slight.
I had to find my way to my brother's in Jersey
But to "ask" directions would be no less than heresy.
So I took out my laptop and headed inside
To grub a few minutes of the Hampton's Wi-Fi.
Looking respectable, I pulled up a seat
(Respectable here meaning shoes and some teeth – This was West Virginia, I should repeat)
I booted up my Mac and Googled NJ,
When the owner stomped over in a goose-steppy way.
"Are you a guest?" she sneered, eager to fight.
"No," answered I, "But I was one last night."
"True, t'was another Hampton," I said with a smile
"But you don't mind if I Google a while?"
Though I hastened my search, she budged not an inch.
This, I reckoned, was one world-class Grinch.
"Each Hampton," she seethed, "is independently owned."
"Private property," she growled in her Grinchiest tone.
"I respect that," said I. "I'll be just a minute."
But her growl implied this Grinch was agin' it.
Peeved as I was, I was not eager to flee.
"She must not know," I mused, "that I (sort of) know the VP."*
*I had just met Dick Cheney two days earlier. We spoke for about three seconds.
"THIS is private property," she repeated, beginning to bore.
"I understand," I answered, "but I need to know more."
She grimaced so hard she almost did snap.
In the meantime I scrambled to pull up the map.
"What more," she fumed, "could you need to know?"
"You never told me," I answered, "whether to stay or to go.
"All I know now is that you own this joint.
"Which is all well and good but beside the point."
"You could say, A: hit the road, you subhuman slime.
Or, B: have a cup of coffee, friend, and take your time.
"Choose B and I'll champion you and your inn.
Choose A and Hampton will never see me again."
It should surprise no one that Ma Grinch chose A.
And this subhuman slime was quick on his way.
Having packed up my gear, I bid her adieu.
And bluffed, "I'm going to tell Hampton Central on you."
The Grinch stared me down but had no more to say.
The look said it all, "Go ahead, sport, make my day."
I imagine that every hour of every day, similar Grinchy scenes take place all across America. They take place despite the fact that our service economy is the world's best and always getting better. In France, such encounters are something of a proud French norm. Such abuse is rare enough here that we are encouraged to identify some lurking bias as motivation. After my unseemly eviction, I had to ask myself the following:
WHY, I did wonder, did she single me out.
Were I sporting a turban I would have had no doubt.
"Bigot," I would think were I in my sombrero.
Or if I walked like Ru Paul or talked like Charo.
Were I an Arab, a Turk or even a Who.
I'd have sent a quick email to the ACLU.
But I wore no fez, no thobe, no dashiki.
I could not fathom what made her so cheeky.
Other than the fact that she was a she.
She rather looked and talked just like me.
No ism or phobia could begin to explain.
Why on my picnic she chose to rain.
Perhaps her head wasn't screwed on right
Perhaps her shoes were too tight.
But whatever the reason for her queen-sized grudge.
When it comes to a Grinch, we err if we judge.
For the most likely reason of all.
Is that a Grinch's heart really is two sizes too small.
So next Christmas rather than dwelling on slights.
Let us pray that even Grinches will share in The Light.