Skip to main content
A cartoon depiction of the author, wearing a hoodie and smiling

Sunday, 10 Jan 2009: The Day I Pissed Off A United States Marine

I flew to Connecticut on Sunday to spend the week at my company’s headquarters taking care of business (like I do). When I arrived in Norwalk I checked into my hotel, where I was given a keycard for room 154 (the sum of the first six factorials). I swiped the key, opened the door, and walked into the entryway to the room before realizing that there was someone already in my room.

The occupant was a man who was at least in his 60s, slightly overweight with white hair and a trimmed beard. It had been a long day and I get nervous pretty easily in awkward social situations anyway, so I stammered something about how there must have been a mistake and started to walk out of the room.

"What are you doing in here?" He said as he stood up. "Well, you see, I, uh, this is my room. But it’s not." The man eyed me suspiciously. "Well this is obviously my room. So what are you doing in here?" "This was supposed to be my room! I swiped this card and it worked! That means they gave me this room too. It’s not a big dea—" He cut me off, standing up and walking toward me as he said: "Well you just pissed off a United States Marine!" I didn’t really know what to say to that, so I just kind of stared at him for a while before repeating, "Look, this is the card they gave me, and they told me to come to this room, so it’s obviously just a mistake." "I’ll say it’s a mistake," he said, examining the slip of paper they had given me with 154 written on it. "I’ll go get a different room. I’m sorry. I obviously didn’t mean to bother you." "Get in here, let’s call the front desk." I froze. "What? No, whatever they do, I’m going to have to go back up front, so I should just do that." "Get in here! I’m going to call the front desk." I didn’t know what to do. This dude could probably kill me with a coat hanger from the hall closet or something, so I just followed his instructions and stepped inside. He dialed the front desk. "Hello? This is [presumably just his last name, I didn’t catch it but it was just one word] from 154. You sent someone else here for this room but it’s mine!" There was a pause while they responded. "No, listen, he’s right here!" He held the phone out to me. "H-h-hi?" I said. "Hello, sorry about that, could you please come back to the front desk so we can get you another room?" the clerk said. "Uh, yeah, that was what I was planning on doing in the first place. So, uh, I’ll do that," I said, handing the dude his phone back and running out the door.

I went back up front and got a new room. Obviously it was just a bug in the software they use, and there are so many things I could have walked in on that would have been so much worse, so I don’t really care, but I told the clerk up front the whole story and mentioned that they were going to have to deal with having pissed off a United States Marine when that guy checked out of his room.

I headed back down the hallway to my new room, #128, which happens to be 27, is the largest number which cannot be expressed as the sum of any number of distinct squares, and is the number of bits in the Dreamcast’s vector graphics engine.

One thing that makes me laugh is that everyone I’ve told this story to has said “That happens a lot,” to which I reply “Oh, it’s happened to you?” And they say “No, I’ve just heard it happens a lot.” WELL OKAY I’M GLAD I COULD BE THE PERSON THAT YOU WILL USE AS THE EXAMPLE OF IT HAPPENING FROM NOW ON.