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LAist's Solved Mysteries: Restaurant Pagers

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It's a Friday night. (Or, it could be a Saturday night too. Or maybe even a Sunday night. Okay, it could be any night.)

Either way, you've shown up at a busy chain restaurant like Marmalade at the Grove, or Cheesecake at the Sherman Oaks Galleria or P.F. Changs down in Santa Monica. There's a queue for sitting down for dinner, and you've been handed one of those great little pager doohickeys. "Don't leave the building," they tell you. "This pager only goes about five feet from this here front podium."

Yes, and you believe them. Which, for god's sake, you shouldn't.

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Restaurants have long employed the culture of fear when dealing with YOU the restaurant patron, in an attempt to not screw up their long list of waiting customers. They tell you that you can stand outside the front of the restaurant but not to walk any further or else you risk being "out of the pager area" and thus, you will miss your chance at eating.

All of us, except for the very daring, ever leave that five foot radius of safety.

Secretly, restaurant hostesses have anonymously informed LAist of the true reasonings behind such "bending of the technological truth." Mostly, as some have explained, "if we let customers waiting for a table walk away from the front of the restaurant, then we have to go outside and find them when their name comes up -- otherwise, if we just skip them we run the risk of having to deal with annoyed customers." "Sure, we could just overlook them and pass them by," one hostess explained, "but then it's just a matter of time until they find their way back, we have to re-add them to the list, and the wait for being seated expands to an unrealistic time limit... And that means losing customers."

On the technological side -- the actual frequency used by the various pager models does vary, but the coverage area is never as little as five to ten feet. Restaurant pagers' coverage area ranges from three to four hundred feet all the way to several miles (depending on the power of the transmitter). And since many systems can handle up to 10,000 individual pagers (if need be) -- the power of their coverage area is always powerful enough to reach way further than you're being told.

There is one caveat: if you decide to test the boundaries of said restaurant pager -- do it on the same level as the transmitter. I.e., don't go to a second or third floor of another store when the transmitter at the restaurant is on the ground level.

Follow these rules and you'll no longer be a slave to the "five feet rule" that most restaurants employ in an attempt to keep their customers close by. Go one-hundred, two-hundred feet. Visit Tower Records or 3rd Street Promenade. Turn that 45 minute waiting period into an adventure. Man, the freedom is just, well, invigorating!

Isn't it nice to know the truth?

One warning, gentlemen: Just don't put the restaurant pagers in your pants. Because, there are rumors that such technology can make you infertile. (Editor's Note: This, of course, has yet to be confirmed but makes for a great button at the end of this piece.)