My Dirty Little Secret to Get What You Really Want (and Avoid Settling for Less)

In People Skills
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We don’t cook at home. 

For us, events like Thanksgiving mean either going to someone else’s home, or to a restaurant that’s open for the holiday. 

We went to a popular place this most recent Thanksgiving. The place has an outdoor patio with a great view of the evening city skyline that prompts everyone to get photos of themselves taken against the scenic backdrop of Miami. 

Anna made our reservation, but we were disappointed to find out upon arrival that no outdoor tables were available. The wait for outside would be at least an hour, we were told, but we could be seated inside with no wait time at all. 

We’d been to this place on Thanksgiving before, and got seated outside with no delay. Maybe the place had become a more popular Thanksgiving destination. Who knows. 

I didn’t really care where we sat. I was much more concerned with eating than seating. I look at things rather practically: if there’s an hour wait for an outside table, then we can A) wait an hour or B) sit inside. One or the other. 

But Anna really wanted the outside table, and apparently had a plan C). 

We accepted the indoor table while still discussing whether the hour-long wait would be worth it. After the waiter brought water, I walked to the outdoor patio to see just how many tables there were, and to guesstimate how long the wait might really be. 

When I came back in, Anna was up from the table too — she was talking to a guy who looked like a manager. 

I didn’t hear all of the conversation, but she was making a quality-of-experience (for lack of a better term) case for us to be seated outside sans hour-long wait. 

She mentioned that we’d come here before and sat outside. That we’d planned this dinner because of the outdoor seating. That she’d requested outdoor seating on the reservation. Also something about it not being right for us to have to wait so long for a table.

I don’t know how any of that information could change the fact that there were no available tables to accommodate us on the outdoor patio. But the manager listened intently. He told her/us that he would “see what [he] could do,” and offered that we sit at the bar in the meantime. 

We hadn’t even pulled out our bar chairs when a hostess informed us that an outdoor table was ready for us. 

Total wait time: 10 minutes. 

***

Maybe several tables cleared at the exact moment that we were agitating for a table. 

Maybe the wait wasn’t really an hour, but the hostesses quoted an hour just to give themselves space in case it did take that long. 

Maybe a request from an attractive woman supplies a performance-enhancing ability for a man to make things happen. 

Or, maybe the act of — tactfully — asking and insisting and refusing to comply when you don’t get exactly what you want actually works. 

You decide.