|Photo: stopnlook, flickr|
Like most servers, I've been pressed into host duty when an employee hasn't shown up (or showed up too hungover to accurately monitor the seating chart -- hostesses are almost always the youngest, most inexperienced and least committed members of a restaurant's crew.) Hostesses have it hard.
Hostesses have to deal with customers at their hungriest, thirstiest, worst. It's not uncommon for customers who feel they haven't been seated quickly enough to hurl insults at the hostess or subject her to stem-winding rants about the crooked nature of the restaurant industry.
But here's what patrons never, ever do: In my experience manning the host stands at restaurants so ritzy that my job description included turning away male guests without jackets and in eateries so casual that "please wait to be seated" signs were dismissed as snobbish affectations, nobody once offered me a bribe.
Even though the question most frequently grumbled in the vicinity of a host stand is "What do I have to do to get a table around here?," a startlingly small percentage of restaurant goers reach for their wallets when asking it. I'm sure there are some old-school restaurants where a culture of bribery prevails, but the vast majority of restaurant goers apparently reject the practice as too undemocratic -- or too expensive.
The gambit typically employed by conniving guests bent on jumping the line is fictitious namedropping ("Oh, is John here tonight?"), a ruse almost always revealed by the guest's red-faced wife -- and by the nonexistence of John. A $5 bill, on the other hand, would likely guarantee a little wait-list tampering from an underpaid hostess, who has no more allegiance to "Garber, party of four" than you do.
What do you think? Should restaurant goers have to resort to bribery to secure a table in a timely fashion? Why have bribes fallen out of favor?