Meet the New York City Dudes Who Will Wait in Line So You Don’t Have to

Robert Samuel, owner of Same Ole Line Dudes gets paid to sit in lines for people. Christie Post and Hector Velez/ The Penny Hoarder

Ever see a long line and wish you could pay someone to save your spot — and your valuable time? We’ve found your dude.

Meet Robert Samuel, a professional line sitter in New York City. “Depending on where you are in line, that placement can be the difference between sold and sold out,” he says.

Yup, he gets paid to sit  — not stand — in line for people. He likes to emphasize the sit part.

Robert Samuel, a professional line sitter in New York City poses on the street in New York City.
Robert Samuel, a professional line sitter in New York City, started his company Same Ole Line Dudes in 2012. Zackary Grant for The Penny Hoarder

Samuel got fired from his customer service job at AT&T — ironically for being late. While working there, he always noticed the frenzy that a new iPhone release would stir. So, he put an ad on Craigslist in 2012, and someone asked him to wait in line to get him a shiny new iPhone. Although the customer ended up buying the phone online, he still paid Samuel $325 for the 15 hours he had waited in line. That day, Samuel’s business, Same Ole Line Dudes (S.O.L.D.), was born.

“I wanted to kind of become the person that you thought of whenever you thought about lines,” says Samuel. “There goes that Same Ole Line Dude.”

Today, the company is no longer just one dude. Samuel has about 30 dudes or dudettes who wait in lines for other people  — no matter how long it takes.

Each week Same Ole Line Dudes averages 15 bookings, charging $45 for the first two hours and $10 for each additional half hour.

Same Ole Line Dudes employees sit together
Same Ole Line Dudes employs about 30 independent contractors who will wait for any want. Zackary Grant for The Penny Hoarder

The dudes regularly line up for hot items like Dominique Ansel’s Cronuts and shoe releases, as well as tickets to concerts, “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” This year they even worked their first graduation, holding a spot for a mom who wanted to be front row to watch her daughter walk across the stage at Columbia University.

And every time an iPhone is released, they wait. A few years ago, seven sitters collectively made $14,000 during the iPhone 7 launch.

Samuel says customer requests don’t surprise him anymore. “When we first started, I’m like, ‘Oh my god… this [item] is free and they’re actually paying us $65 to wait three hours,’” he says. “But then when you realize that it may be something that their kid wants and they can’t get away from work — then $65 is nothing if it means making your child happy.”

On average, sitters make about $1,000 a month. Unlike most jobs, the more you wait, the more you make. Time is, in fact, money.

Adonis “Donnie” Porch was one of the first sitters and uses the money he makes to pay for school. Reminiscing about his favorite line-waiting experience, he says, “I got a $100 tip on top of a ticket to see ‘Hamilton,’ on top of food that was catered to me for lunch and dinner, on top of meeting the rapper Nas. All in that one sitting.”

But working conditions are not always so perfect.

Allbirds created a limited edition shoe with Shake Shack that attracted hundreds of people, including customers of Same Ole Line Dudes. Zackary Grant for The Penny Hoarder

“We wait in the rain, we wait in the snow, we wait for it all,” says Porch. “We have Domino’s delivered to the line. Because of that relationship that we’ve built with people… in line we’ll ask them to hold our spot so we can go to the restroom. We use an app called Toilet Finder that can let us know where the local bathrooms are in the area.”

Although it can take hours, days or even weeks — Porch says he once waited two weeks for “Hamilton” tickets — the reward is worth all the wait.

“For me, if I get the product for my customer, the joy of just seeing them happy that I got this for them is my best reward I could ever ask for,” he says. “I just always want to see my customers happy. That’s just always been my motto. Regardless if I get a tip or not.”

In its sixth year, Same Ole Line Dudes provides Samuel with an income that far exceeds his original expectations.

“I never thought it would pay my rent, help me pay my student loans and also employ my friends and family,” he said. “It’s really been a blessing.”

Christie Post, supervising producer and host at The Penny Hoarder, is always finding ways to make stories visual. You can see the videos she produces on YouTube. Subscribe and give her a shoutout @christiepost.