That slow part of the day that pays the bills, also known as my “day job” is spent working behind the front desk of a hotel. In this line of work you meet all kinds of people and personality types. On average people are reasonably friendly and a little tired from their travels when they check in. A very small percentage of guests are over-the-top friendly. They can be loud, are almost always in the mood to joke around, and quite often share a little too much. I like these people, but they can fray your nerves if exposed to them for too long. On the other end of the scale are the people that suck all the joy out of the room. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but they do make it difficult to remember to apply Wheaton’s Law. Wheaton’s Law, for those not fully in the nerdy circle, is “Don’t be a Dick!”.
I have tried to live my life by this simple rule since long before Mr. Wil Wheaton distilled this concept down to a single phrase. I have failed to apply Wheaton’s Law on more than one occasion, as I’m sure my family and friends will be only too happy to tell you about. But generally I am able to repress the “dick response” impulse and I’m a happier person for my successes.
I’m writing about this because of something that happened last night. In order to keep my backside out of the fire I am going to leave out some of the details. Everything I do include will be accurate, and will hopefully convey the difficulty of the situation.
I was sitting at the front desk working on ideas for the podcast when a guest walked into the lobby. She stopped and said,
GUEST: I finally hunted down a Sprite.
This did not seem to be in a nasty or upset tone of voice, so I assumed (I know… my mistake) that the guest was just making conversation, so I joked,
ME: Yep. Sprite is an important part of the nightly routine!
This is when the worm turned…
GUEST: (angrily) You should have told us when we checked in that there weren’t any vending machines!
ME: Umm. There are vending machines halfway down this hall. (pointing back the way she had come, and where she had obviously managed to finally locate her soda)
GUEST: (still angry) You don’t have any down the far end of the hall! I don’t understand why you removed the ones down there!
I started to explain that we didn’t remove them, because we have never had any vending machines at the opposite end of the hall, but before I could get a word out I was cut off,
GUEST: I know you had machines there before! I was here last year and that’s where I got my Sprite!
It was at this point that Wheaton’s Law was put to the test…
ME: Look, I know that you are tired from the car trip and that you feel the need to take it out on someone. And I don’t mind being your whipping boy to a certain extent. But if you are going to lie to my face to try and back up your unjustified attack against me, you should at least go further back in history so that I am unlikely to have worked here. You say you were here last year? Well, I’ve worked here two and a half years and we haven’t had vending machines at that end of the hotel in that entire time, moron! I despise liars to begin with, but you are just a lazy liar! Despicable!
At least that is what I wanted to say… Fortunately, I remembered Wil’s words as I opened my mouth, and replied with a much shorter, inoffensive…
GUEST: Well, I’m just going to take my Sprite up to my room now.
ME: Sounds like a good idea. Have a good night.
This was, happily, a win for Wheaton’s Law and my self-control. It has been said that if everyone would follow Mr. Wheaton’s philosophy the world would be all rainbows and sunshine, or something similar. That, unfortunately, is just a dream. If you take a good look at what’s going on around the globe today you will see that it’s just not in human nature to rest at peace. But, if we try really hard as individuals to avoid being dicks, then maybe we can make the world in our immediate influence a better, happier place to live.