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 be 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 be.   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 a 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 it 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.

About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

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    June 25, 2017

    Ted – There’s more than a few moral flaws with your friend’s thinking, assuming we still care about “doing what’s right and fair” in this country. Let’s start with your friend’s justification of his hourly worth. I’ve heard this one before and it seems logical on the surface. But let’s say there are 2 people sitting in a meadow, having a picnic. One makes $15 per hour and one makes $250 per hour. They are both enjoying leisure time. They both control how long they picnic. No one is paying either of them to be there and they are not providing a service. How is it that one person is more valuable than the other at that moment? Here’s another problem with the old “slip her a $20 because I’m so important that I can’t wait in line” theory. What about that young couple of teachers who are waiting to celebrate their anniversary? They’ve saved up (responsibly, as you would suggest) for weeks to afford a nice meal at a restaurant that’s normally too pricey for them. Now, they’ll cool their heels a little longer because your friend cut in line. What about the arts supporters who timed out their evening to go to the theatre performance? They might be late now, but thank God your friend didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes in the bar. And let’s talk about the culpability of the hostess in this scenario. The restaurant may or may not have rules about this kind of thing. If they do, she could be fired. (Maybe that’s ok because she’ll just go get another minimum wage job, right? Her work is not that valuable). Maybe the rent on her shared downtown apartment just went up and she’s trying to figure out if she has enough money to move or if she can just keep paying more per month. It’s pretty hard to turn down a $20 if you’re not sure you can make your rising expenses. No where in this scenario does your friend stop and think about the other human beings in the restaurant. He’s the most important person in the room. That is the very definition of entitlement.

  • Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves
    June 27, 2017

    Suzan – thanks for your thoughts. Guess the law of supply and demand will always hold true.

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