Paid Line-Holders Find Worth In The Wait

Jun 25, 2017
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Some things are worth the wait. But our next guest finds worth in the wait. Robert Samuel is the founder of Same Ole Line Dudes, and the service he offers is holding your place in line - for a fee, of course. He joins us from our studios in New York. Welcome.

ROBERT SAMUEL: Thank you. Thank you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So since you are in New York, I suppose I should say waiting on line, like a New Yorker would. What are the top things that people pay to wait for in New York City right now?

SAMUEL: Currently, our most requested wait is for Broadway shows. Last year it was "Hamilton"...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Of course.

SAMUEL: And this year it's, "Dear Evan Hansen," "The Great Comet." We still do cronuts...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The fancy bakery store where people wait in line to get the cronuts...

SAMUEL: The cronut - that is correct, a croissant-donut hybrid. Correct.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. So what is the average waiting time that your employees have to stand in line for, and how much does it cost?

SAMUEL: It's about three to four hours for most things. Broadway waits tend to be a little longer because they're overnight. But the pricing is, minimum, up to two hours $45 with $10 each additional half hour or $20 each additional hour.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So who are your clients?

SAMUEL: Everyone. Believe it or not, it's not, you know, just for the rich. It could be you know, stay-at-home moms who can't be in two places at one time. One of my youngest clients was actually a junior high school girl who had a crush on a guy at school. And I delivered, to her private school, cronuts on Valentine's Day (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) OK.

SAMUEL: So she had the money, so we provided the service.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you start doing this?

SAMUEL: It was purely by accident. I lost my job at an AT&T store on the Upper East Side. I spent the majority of the year, you know, unemployed, depressed. And when the iPhone 5 came along, I posted an ad on Craigslist. I just, you know, said - let me make a quick hundred dollars just waiting on the sidewalk. And the gentleman who hired me actually had his order go through online on apple.com, but he still paid me through PayPal anyway. And when I was ready to leave, after waiting about four or five hours, he encouraged me to sell my coveted No. 2 spot. And then a few months later, I just revisited the idea and created Same Ole Line Dudes, and we grew from there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, how many people do you employ now?

SAMUEL: Currently, we have 39 with four of us being, you know, management/booking reps.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, I got to tell you, this feels like such an urban, New York...

SAMUEL: (Laughter)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Phenomenon. It's like a symptom of our times, you know...

SAMUEL: Yes, very much so (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...When people are like - can't even be bothered to wait for things themselves. And, like, middle schoolers are even going out and asking you to wait in line for them. Is it something that's part of the New York experience?

SAMUEL: Very true. New York is very unique in that we always have so many things to try to experience, to eat, to watch, to do. So New York City is just ripe for the type of service that we provide. Ironically, it didn't start - from my research when I first started doing this, it was really in Washington, D.C., of all places. They had lawyers and lobbyists, and they employed their messengers and turned them into line-standers for congressional hearings, Supreme Court hearings - you know, things surrounding politics.

What I did was made it for anything. It could be a pre-K registration. It could be a iPhone. It could be, you know, expensive shoes, or it could be the latest sushi restaurant. So we just took the idea of standing in line waiting and just splashed it on everything in New York (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So who says that good ideas don't come out of Washington?

SAMUEL: OK?

(LAUGHTER)

SAMUEL: Sh, don't say that too loud.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMUEL: We don't want to give them too much credit.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Robert Samuel, founder of professional line-waiting company Same Ole Line Dudes - thank you so much.

SAMUEL: Thank you for having me, Lulu. It's been a pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIME IN A BOTTLE")

JIM CROCE: (Singing) If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.