How the grinch stole my wi-fi


Regional/ Kansas City:


By Jack Cashill

December 2007
Courtesy of

A few weeks back, during high autumn, I chose to take the more scenic route up I-81 from Virginia to my brother’s digs in rural western New Jersey.

I was feeling rather special, having attended a splendid shindig in DC the night before. At dinner, in fact, I had found myself seated next to a young couple, who introduced themselves as “Liz and Phil.”

“Have we met,” I blundered to Liz. “You look familiar.”

Phil explained discreetly why that might be so. Her father, you see, was the vice-president of the United States. “Oh yea, I’ve heard of him.”

Anyhow, as I was driving through West Virginia, feeling important, I realized that I did not exactly know how to get to my brother’s house. So 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.”

ACTUALLY, I am a great respecter of private property and free enterprise so this confrontation proved something of a quandary for me. In truth, I confess, it was I who was borrowing Hampton’s Wi-Fi.

I use the word “stole” in the title only to evoke the spirit of Dr. Seuss. It has more resonance than “How The Grinch Deprived Me of Her Wi-Fi.” That much said, there is a lesson to be learned here about the choices that ownership offers.

“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 say 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.”

WITH ALLOWANCE for a little poetic license the scene unfolded just as I described. 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. Ditto the DMV.

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/
On my picnic she decided 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 this Christmas rather than dwelling on slights/
Let us pray that even Grinches will share in the light.

Who is Jack Cashill?



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