Slip The Hostess A $50 Bill

What’s your worst nightmare on a Saturday night?  We live near a massive outdoor shopping and eating complex called Avalon.   Filled with 20 or so restaurants, it’s generally buzzing on the weekends with couples and families walking around spending money in the stores and grabbing a bit at the cuisine of their choice.   My worst nightmare on a Saturday night is taking the family out or meeting some friends and stepping up to the hostess who tells me it is going to be an hour and a half wait to get a table and puts our name into the software so we can track how far back we are in the line to eat.   Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare!!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine flew into town and we went to grab dinner at a hot spot in Buckhead where they told us our wait was going to one hour and fifteen minutes.   When I heard the hostess shout out the lengthy amount of time we would have to stick around, I told my friend we’d be best off finding somewhere else to me.   Then it happened.  Something that I’ve seen work in the movies and thought had gone out the window circa 1985 and my friend changed my mind about what kinds of financial tactics still work in today’s modern day and age.

He glanced at the hostess and said, “Hey, can I ask you a favor?” as he pushed a $20 bill across the counter.  “I’m sure that there is nothing you can do, but please take this if there are any openings that happen to come up quicker then let us know.”   When I saw him push the money across the hostess stand not even done in a discreet way I thought to myself how embarrassing this situation is going to be.   We turned our backs as she scraped up the $20 bill and headed over the bar for a drink.

As my friend and I grabbed a cocktail I said, “What was that?  You know with all of these waiting apps today that kind of old school give money to the hostess stuff doesn’t work anymore, right?”   He quickly gave me a quasi staring glance and said, “Yeah, it works all the time.  Everywhere I go, I have no reason to wait in line.  I just give them a tip and magically I am at the head of the line.”   As he blurted out this statement I laughed and little bit and thought it would be best to take our drinks and head to the patio scene.

As we worked our way to the patio, he shared with me WHY he uses this technique.  He started discussing the concept of an HOUR of time and what one hour of time is actually worth today. If an hour of your time is worth $100, $200, or even $500, why in the world would you ever make you, your friends, or your family wait if you could spend money to get to the front of the line.  They do it in places like Disney World with the fast pass, so why not fast pass yourself at the restaurant?

About five minutes later on the patio, a buzz came into my phone.  Sure enough it was the hostess saying that my table was ready for us to sit at RIGHT NOW!  Not only did we get a table, but we got one of the best patio tables in the entire place.   As we sat down, an incredulous look came across my face almost in bewilderment of what just happened at the restaurant.  I said to my buddy, “There is no way I thought that kind of stuff had worked anymore.  If I had known that, I would have used a week ago in Savannah where we had to wait 90 minutes for dinner.”  He said to me, “Just remember Ted, what is an hour of your time worth.  If you can get seated for less than that do it every single time.”

Next time I am in line for a long wait, maybe Uncle Benjamin will join me and find us a seat within the blink of an eye.