Hate waiting in line? Want better service? Do you prefer the Presidential Suite? Need that bill bottled up in committee? You got it. Money Talks!
Bribery a lost art in America these days but in many places in the rest of the world it is still alive and well. We have noticed that a few pesos or leva strategically distributed can occasionally make a big difference in a single dude’s life. Especially when traveling to more out of the way places it can really be useful, and can occasionally really save save your ass. It’s important to get a feel for what you can accomplish (or avoid) with a little small scale bribery. Here’s a couple categories of people you might consider bribing:
1. Police: With cops you have to know whether you’re in a cop-bribe friendly place or not. Generally in places where cops are well paid, unless you’re Al Capone and handing envelopes with $50,000 in them to chiefs of police, we advise against bribing cops. However in places with, shall we say, less “professional” cops a few dollars spent on a “tip” to a cop may save you an enormous amount of trouble later on.
Some of my super fun Yemeni party friends told me a story about when they were smoking pot once on the beach in Malaysia and a cop came up and busted them for it. Now in southeast Asia drugs are pretty harshly dealt with (like the death penalty for drug trafficking in several of those countries) so it’s best if when you get busted for something like that that you deal with the cop instead of the legal system. So he very calmly offered the cop 50 Ringitt ($17) and the cop took his weed and let him off. Great! But he wasn’t finished. After that transaction was over he went up to the cop and offered him another 50 Ringitt, which the cop accepted, to return his weed to him. After that, the cop was $35 richer and my buddy was able to continue smoking his joint on the beach. That solution is much better than getting caned or spending years in jail, in my opinion.
2. Doormen/ Bouncers: This is usually a useful group to bribe wherever you are. In certain super fancy snooty places like Ibiza or Miami it’s not really worth the money required unless you really have some pressing necessity to get into a club. I generally feel like clubs with velvet ropes and throngs of people outside are not really worth paying a bunch of money or waiting in long lines to get into anyway. If you do want to get out of waiting in a line to a club, a friend of mine’s wife has a very smart line for this which is: “Hey man, look. I’m not too good to wait in your line, I’m just too old to wait in your line.” Then she slips him 20 buck or whatever, and it always seems to work.
3. Bartenders in tip-free places: So I consider this a tip, but it has the same effect as bribery in those places where tipping is not so common. Memo to Americans: we are the world’s best tippers. In the USA these days tipping is pretty much out of control. Nowadays it’s considered a bad tip at a restaurant to only tip 15%, and bartenders expect minimum of $1 a drink. I see people leaving a $3 tip for a $10 martini all the time nowadays. Abroad, that is considered lavish tipping, even offensively so in certain cultures. However at a foreign club that kind of tipping will really make you get noticed and served first.
Raul and I were at a bar in Medellin, Colombia last year that had just an awesome Ladies’ night on Thursday (Babylon) with open free drinks for girls and open free drinks for guys after paying somewhere between $10 and 15. One of these days I’ll get around to writing the whole story of that crazy night. Anyway, as you might imagine the place was thronged, and everybody was just going up and ordering a beer or an entire bottle of aguardiente (the national drink) and tipping 0 dollars. Raul and I made a policy of tipping something around like a buck every round (a bad tip in the USA) and after, say, 6 rounds, all the bartenders would serve us immediately whenever we got up to the bar. There were chicks flashing their fake Colombian boobs trying to get a drink, and guess who would get served instead right next to them? That’s right, money talks.
4. Maitre Ds: Now this one is really old school, but this guy can really help you out. Want the best table? Slip this guy a 20 and he will make it happen. This is really how we learned about the usefulness of bribery the first time, Raul and I: We went to some Vegas show years ago and wanted a sweet table up front near the boobs. We saw a primo table and said, “How about that one?” He said, “Well, if you boys help me out, I’ll help you out.” $20 bucks later, we were sitting there. He even brought us change for a Benjamin for said “tip”.
Another good Vegas story was the time that Raul and I were in town at the same time as the rodeo one year, and we thought, “Hey, this would be the perfect night for Bikini Bullriding at Gilley’s!” So we went down to the club only to find out that approximately 10,000 cowboys had the same idea. The line to get in snaked through the entire casino and it was obvious we would never get in if we waited in line. So we found a security guy, gave him $20, he put a stamp on our hands, and we walked right in the re-entry door. I remember thinking as we walked past the entire line of Texas cowboys in their cowboy hats and shit-kickers that if these guys knew what we were doing they would have all beaten our asses. But they didn’t. As Raul said to me once, “You know, there’s a lot of dudes out there who are pretty cool and smart and have their shit together, but they haven’t been to Vegas.” Tru dat, bro.
5. Hotel managers: A friend of mine who travels for a living as well and stays at fancy hotels swears by this. When he goes to a hotel, at check in he asks to speak to the manager. He then discretely suggests an upgrade to a suite, gives the guy a little cash, and he says he gets that upgrade for $20-$50 pretty much all the time there is an empty suite available.
My all time favorite bribery story is about a friend of mine who was living in New York. As a struggling musician, he didn’t want to spend too much on an apartment, so he bribed his way to the top of the waiting list for public housing for a couple thousand bucks. Now he got a place in a housing project, sure, but it was in a primo location on Broadway in the low 100s right across the street from some million dollar condos. He was probably the only white guy in the building. The way they charged rent was based on your income, and the rent only went up after you made more money for 3 months in a row. So, he had his jobs pay him annually once a year in the same month, and reported no income the rest of the time. His monthly rent for a 800 square foot apartment in Manhattan: $25.
Now this is by no means a complete list. Just remember that money always talks. Want a DJ or band to play your song? Musicians are always 100% bribeable. Politicians, the same, but more expensive. Just know your audience. Don’t try to bribe cops in Switzerland, they probably make more money than you do. Also, ask around to get an idea what a good bribe runs. It’s a bummer when you offer a $20 bribe that gets snapped up so quickly you realize you could have gotten the same thing for $5. And be discreet. Nothing ruins a good bribery attempt more than showiness or indiscretion. Remember, these guys can get fired for accepting a bribe, so don’t let their colleagues see it and know when there are people watching on camera. Be cool and let them know that the secret stays with you and you will find that while you speak discretely, your money will say volumes.