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Software consultant banned by Hilton for snake 'joke'

When filling out online booking forms, joking is tempting. Sometimes, people don't find it funny. Especially if it's a "snake in my trousers" joke.

Well, this snake thought it was funny.
MrAntonjin/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The joy of the impersonal world of digital is that it tempts you to be more yourself.

You're sitting there on your laptop and feel able to just write what's in your head.

Sadly, what's in your head is often the detritus of a twisted, troubled life, isn't it? Or it's merely humor from your 12-year-old days.

Please judge for yourself the tale of British software consultant Jason Payne. He was filling out an online booking form for the Hilton Hotel in Bastingstoke, England when he reached the question about whether he had pets.

Payne replied that he had "a large snake in my trousers."

It's not much of a pickup line, is it? It's more a line that begs for a putdown.

Still, when Payne checked in at the hotel, he said he found a warm welcome. He told the Daily Mail: "The woman at the reception just suddenly burst out laughing hysterically and appeared very amused."

Was she, Jason? Was she? For it seems that, at the Basingstoke Hilton, thin is the line between amused and abused.

After staying at the hotel, Payne received a stiff note from Catherine Wurst, the manager.

It read in part: "As an employer, we are not willing to accept that our team members are ever put in an uncomfortable situation, due to the abusive language a guest uses talking to them, writing to them or even on the booking form they fill in online."

Indeed, Wurst thought the worst not merely of the comment's allegedly abusive nature, but also about its level of humor. She described it as not funny.

Jason Payne, software consultant, learned about the Hilton way the hard way. He was banned from ever staying at the hotel again.

The Hilton Hotel Group told the Daily Mail that its pet policy remained friendly -- but only for legitimate pets. (No, I did not make that up.)

Payne replied of Wurst: "I think she's a fuddy-duddy, taking really what was a puckish remark far too seriously, and she has no sense of humor."

Here ends the story of Jason Payne, the software consultant who didn't think that anyone would actually read what he wrote on an online booking form.