Ok, so I'm a little bit proud about what I did last night, and also a little bit embarrassed. It normally is not my style to do something like this, but I did it, and was amazed at how well it worked.
I wanted to get a last minute reservation for two at a restaurant that is reputed to be one of NYC's most difficult reservations. On this board, this particular restaurant generally is highly regarded, although there are some that think it is overrated and overpriced. I called the reservations number and was surprised to actually get through at about 5:00pm yesterday. I asked for a table for two, and was told that one would be available at 9:45. I asked if I could possible get one at 7:30 or 8:00, and assured them that we would be ordering some good wine. She said I'd have to speak with the maitre d' and put me on hold. He came on the line and I gave him the same pitch. He told me to come in at 7:30 and he would take care of me. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised: all it took was a vague promise of ordering a nice bottle of wine and I was able to get a prime reservation.
So we showed up and I introduced myself to the maitre d'. He promptly showed us to a table, and I slipped him $50 to thank him. (I generally am a generous tipper, but have never tipped a maitre d' -- let alone bribed my way into a restaurant -- before in my life.) Five minutes later he came back to the table and handed me a business card with his cell phone number written on the back. He told me to call him any time, and he would take care of me.
We had a wonderful dinner, and did in fact order a very nice bottle of wine. Assuming the maitre 'd honors his word (I have every reason to believe that he will), I'd say it was $50 well spent.