It’s Not Bribery, It’s Palm Greasing

I just read this nonsense about Jason Sheehan being accused of bribing a waiter with $50 for a table at some restaurant, in some city other than Philadelphia. Apparently, this is worthy of national news—or at least the food blog version of national news. Jason went on to issue a denial of the horrendous charges, but wait a second, it’s not bribery, and it’s not wrong.

The first time I “bribed” my way into a restaurant was at El Vez (cue all the Starr haters). I was there within days of its openings with some friends. There were six of us total, we waited, and waited, and waited for a table for an hour and a half. Which means mean we drank, and drank, and drank some more at the bar. Six people sucking down $12 margaritas on a Saturday night. You do the math.

After we finally got to our table and ate, our check showed that we’d spent more on pre-dinner drinks under the rotating lowrider than we did on the dinner itself. The next time I showed up at El Vez—again, there were six of us—I asked each person in our group for $5, collecting $25. I then pulled a crisp $20 from my wallet, folded it, palmed it the way they do in the movies, and had a little handshake with the host in the front of the room. We got a table five minutes later—a good table at that—and saved more than $100. And oh yeah, your math is right, I did pocket the extra five.

This isn’t wrong. It’s the service industry, not the federal government. The guy in front of me who waited for a table for 30 minutes didn’t have some inalienable right to that table. He was just a poor schmuck who didn’t know any better.