This happened about 4 years ago in my last year of university, and I’m pretty sure I was in the right, though I probably wasn’t as ‘polite’ as I could have been.
I joined an Anime Society while at university, and ended up getting brought into a group of friends. Most of them had known each other for years but I was welcomed in. The group wasn’t very large, but due to schedules and just general life, it was odd to have everyone together at the same time. As such, certain people were naturally closer to others, a few that considered each other more ‘acquaintances’ and a few clashing personalities that tried never to be in the same room together – but never anything too problematic.
I got on great with the majority, especially a girl, Jane, and this guy Adam. However, Jane and Adam were quite friendly with another guy, Tony, who I very rarely saw. And when we did finally meet, I didn’t really like him all that much. I can’t actually put my finger on why – we had plenty in common and there was nothing particularly unlikeable about him – he just rubbed me the wrong way.
Anyway, not long after joining this group, I introduced them to anime conventions, and desperate to keep our money down, we’d often pool together and share rooms. One year, I shared with Jane and Tony (the first time I actually spent quite a bit of time around him), and found he could be a quite irritating roommate – he was loud, spilled food, invited other people to our room who would crash there, and barely slept. After that, I made a point to always share with other friends.
The year, I was going to a convention with Adam. We had chosen to fly, while Jane, Jill and the rest of the group had all made their way down by train or by bus the night before. They all had far more luggage than we did, and neither of us really like long train trips if we can avoid them – as a rule, so long as nobody is travelling alone, everyone just makes their way however they prefer or can afford.
This had actually been a bad year/time for conventions. A lot of the group were getting ready to graduate, or preparing for exams and generally been quite broke. And this was by far the most expensive one every year, just due to the city it was held in (hotel rates were almost twice what they were for other cons).
Plus there had been 2 other conventions in the last month, so some had just gone to one of them and sat this one out, or planned to go only to back out last minute. I’d booked a room to share with Adam and another friend originally, only to have other friend cancel about a week before. This was a little upsetting, since the city the convention was being held was expensive, and not having an extra roommate meant the rooms were a lot pricier than planned. However, said friend really couldn’t afford to go and was genuinely upset about it, and we could cover the cost, so we didn’t make a big deal about it. We did try to get another roommate, but by that point everyone who could afford to go had already booked rooms.
Fast forward to us arriving and heading to the hotel, when Adam got a phone call from Jane saying they’d met up with everyone, and that Tony, who had told everyone he couldn’t afford to go, had actually got on a bus and made his way there. Of course, he didn’t have a place to stay…and asked Adam if he could crash in our room for the weekend for free?
I just stared at him and asked if he was serious. Adam just shrugged, and I put my foot down. No. He wanted to stay; he had to at least cover some of the cost of the rooms. Adam relayed the message, and then told me that Tony only had £10 on him for the full weekend.
My jaw just dropped. £10 to get you through 2 days and 3 nights? In this area that would get you maybe a meal and a drink – technically not even that, as you needed to get public transport to get to and from the convention from our hotel.
I got a little more of the story. Turns out he’d found a really cheap bus and hopped on hoping Jane would let him crash in their room. Problem was Jane (who had really stretched herself financially to afford to come) had already invited 4 other people to stay in her room to reduce its cost (not that the hotel knew!) and there was just no space.
I know part of me should have felt guilty, but I kept my foot down and said no. Tony knew full well just how much people had to spend to come to this convention – he couldn’t just come last minute and expect other people to let him freeload. If he had maybe come to Adam before the convention and asked if there was any way we could take him in, even for one night, I might have been more lenient. As it was, I found it extremely rude and ridiculous that he’d come all this way when he clearly couldn’t afford it.
I never actually saw him during the entire con (I later found out he was so broke, he hadn’t even bought registration, so just hung outside the convention all weekend), but found out through Jane that he’d ended up staying with them on the floor anyway, and generally mooched off them for food and drink. Can’t say I felt too guilty after that, though did feel bad that Jane ended up supporting him instead. 1012-12