How to Buy Dinner for a Restaurant Full of Strangers

The 84-year-old line cutter who was recently rewarded for jumping the queue at Publix with the largest single jackpot in American lottery history ($370.8 million), may have bought dinner for a restaurant full of strangers over the weekend. She also may have continued hoarding the millions all to herself, not givin' anyone shit. An employee of the Buddy Freddy's restaurant in Plant City, FL told the Tampa Bay Times that a woman who "sure looked like" Gloria MacKenzie paid for dinner for 180 people on Sunday. That woman told the employee that she sure wasn't Gloria MacKenzie; just some other mysterious 84-year-old millionaire from central Florida buying everyone dinner for no reason.

This presents us with a valuable case study on how to buy dinner for a restaurant full of strangers.

Item 1: Who Deserves My Free Dinner?
The mysterious wealthy woman who looks very much like, but who is possibly not, Gloria MacKenzie purchased her mass of dinners at 4 p.m on Sunday. In this way, she ensured that she would be giving her free dinners mostly to the elderly (HER BEST FRIENDS) and their fidgety grandchildren. Who else but this very specific subpopulation is eating dinner at 4 p.m. on a Sunday?

Careful timing ensures you are treating only those people you want to reward with free dinner. If you want to buy dinner for teenagers on curfew, plan to eat in time to get everyone home by 10. If you want to buy dinner for people who work the graveyard shift, plan to eat around 6:30 a.m. If you want to buy dinner for people having affairs, plan to eat around 2 p.m. on a Thursday in a town where no one asks questions.

Item 2: How Can I Get Maximum Free Dinner for Minimum Money?
By treating everyone to the early bird special, not only was Gloria MacKenzie or the mysterious twin of Gloria MacKenzie making everyone's night late afternoon, she was also budgeting responsibly. If you are a millionaire but not a billionaire, consider buying everyone a round during happy hour or judiciously applying a "25% off regularly priced menu items" coupon to your total thousand-dollar bill. Don't feel pressure to buy dinner at a fancy restaurant; people will be just as happy for free mozzarella sticks as they would be for free Malpeque oysters, and those fancy folks are probably expensing their dinners anyway.

Item 3: Will Not Tipping Rock the Boat?
Schmoria SchmacSchmenzie gave each of the restaurant's five servers a $50 tip on Sunday. $50 sounds like a lot of money, especially in relation to $5 or negative dollars, but, assuming the total bill amount was $2,600 as the Times write-up implies, it actually works out to a little less than a 10% tip for each server; they probably would have faired better if everyone had just paid for their own damn food. HOWEVER, these calculations only hold if no one but Schmoria left a tip. Hopefully, tippled off their—now free—half dozen or so iced teas (unlimited refills at Buddy Freddy's) and the general aura of largesse in the air, all the patrons tipped generously.

Here's a tip: Let everyone know the tipping score by standing on your chair and declaring magnanimously "Dinner's on me, but don't forget to leave a little something for the fine servers who helped us out tonight!" Maybe lead the room in a round of applause. Everyone's feeling great.

Item 4: Should I Let People Worship Me as a God?
The most curious part of the happy free dinner story is that the walleted crusader never revealed her identity to the restaurant patrons she had treated to free dinner. If she really was Gloria C. MacKenzie, the 84-year-old $370.8 million lottery winner from the next town over, it's not exactly a big secret that she has a lot of money. The Buddy Freddy's manager told the Times that people started clapping and hugging their benefactor after it was announced that dinner had been taken care of, so everyone knew which human being in the restaurant was responsible for picking up the tab. If you don't want people to know you're rich, buying everyone dinner is a bad way to go about that, because buying everyone dinner is not something that poor people do.

Item 5: Can I Pretend to Be the Real Dinner Buyer if I'm Not?
You can do whatever you want — it's Wednesday! But why would you? You're only increasing your odds of getting robbed in the parking lot and, unlike an actual millionaire, you cannot afford security.

[Tampa Bay Times // Image via flickr/Vassil Tzvetanov]

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