Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Hooters as Work
Jane Doe

Hooters, a restaurant chain, opened ion 4 October 1983, in Clearwater, Florida. Today, there are 445 Hooters restaurant in 29 countries. Hooters Restaurant Group LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, owns 160 locations and franchises 285.

The restaurants have a casual atmosphere and beach theme, of sorts. Sports, on widescreen televisions, are a main feature of each Hooters location as is a jukebox blasting oldies music. The menu includes seafood, salads, sandwiches and Hooters world famous spicy chicken wings.

Goods accounts for about 4% of Hooters restaurants revenue; tee shirts, caps, mugs and calendars are big sellers. Two-thirds of restaurant revenue is from food and 25% from alcohol sales. Hungry or thirsty people thus go to Hooters or not.

The women servers are the reason most customers go to Hooters. The tight, white tee shirt and orange shorts, their uniform, are familiar. The young women servers, the “Hooters Girls,” are world famous.

I work at Hooters. I became infatuated with Hooters in 2002. I will never forget that day.

A friend invited me to a University of Miami “Hurricanes” football game. The team plays in the Sun Life Stadium, in Miami Gardens, Florida. Larry Coker coached the “Hurricanes” at the time.

Hooters had a booth in the stadium parking lot. It was giving away bumper stickers, cups, tee shirts. “Hooters Girls” were signing autographs.

The circus reminded me of the movie, "Catch Me if You Can." Specifically, the scene when everyone stops in their tracks as the Pan Am flight attendants walked by, with the pilot. Everybody turned his or her head to watch.

I saw men falling over themselves. They wanted to get near the booth staffed by “Hooter Girls.” They’d push and shove to get a tee shirt signed.

When my friend and I reached the booth, the recruitment started. One of the “Hooter Girls” asked if I would consider working at Hooters. I said I thought my chest was too small, “You girls are huge up top.”

The “Hooters Girl” said I was perfect and a ton of the men in line told me go for it. That hooked me. I wanted men falling all over me. I wanted a pay cheque for it; I thought I would earn a ton of money to sit and sign shirts all day.

I applied for a job at Hooters. I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get to Hooters. At the time, I was working two part-time jobs, in a busy dentist office and a diner. I thought I found a job that could carry me through school and set me up, financially, forever.

I met the manager of Hooters. I was a little intimidated, as I’m not as large, on top, let’s say, as the “Hooter Girls” seem. The manager assured me size did not matter.

“If you have a stunning personality,” the manager said, “you can go far in this company. We have pageants, car washes and other events.” Thinking I hit it big overwhelmed me.

I got a job on the spot. I began working the next week. I gave notice to my two part-time jobs and all my time to Hooters.

My first day of work, I was so intimidated. Still, I decided to go to work and be myself. What happened would happen.

The men immediately took to the new girl. I must admit I looked great in the uniform. I had so many requests for my telephone number, more than in a year at the diner.

From the first moment, everyone made me feel as if I were a member of the family. I was so surprised how many men come to the restaurant with their wives, girlfriends and kids, yes, their kids. That took a little getting used.

The uniform emphasizes cleavage. I thus assumed it was more an adult restaurant. Yet, the atmosphere was so fun I quickly realized I was over analyzing things. I decided to just have fun and go for it.

Not every part of working at Hooters is great. I can’t stand when a man calls me "Baby" or says I must sit on his lap, rub his back or kiss him. I might look hot, but I'm not a hooker. I also don’t like it when men tell me to flash them or show some ass. The part I dislike, most, about working at Hooters is men telling me I need a boob job; I understand I’m small, but I have feelings and that comment hurts.

Sometimes, I work at double shift at Hooters. During a double shift, a male customer insisted I sit on his lap while taking his order. I declined, politely, and he became more demanding.

The customer grabbed me by the waist and sat me on his lap. I was 11 hours into a 16-hour shift and was easy to push around. It only took a second before our muscle-on-duty threw him out the front door.

Although a little scared, I kept working through the shift. When I walked out the door, I saw the rough customer waiting, watching our front door from across the street. I had someone to walk me to my truck and I drove home.

A few miles toward home, I noticed a car following me. I immediately turned and headed back to work. The police station was my first choice, but it was too far away and I was low on gas.

When I got back to work, the rough customer jumped out of his car to get me before I could make it in the front door. Some observant patrons, in the restaurant, saw me running and intercepted this fellow. The police came and I filed a report.

To this day, I always feel he may follow me home. It’s a terrible feeling knowing you are in potential danger whenever you are alone. I hope I never see him again and he learned his lesson.

I love the employees at my job. We are as sisters, the servers. I love the food, especially the wings. I am a sports freak; I love the “Dolphins” and “Canes.” Having a game on television, while working, is cool. As well, working at Hooters allows me to be bubbly and develop my personality. “Hooters Girls” are encouraged to express themselves; cookie-cutter servers we are not.

The sense of family, at Hooters, often leads me to connect unrelated good events, in my life, to the restaurant.

Recently, a horrible day ended with one of my best experiences. I was flying down the Interstate, late for work at Hooters. I decided it would be faster if I used the quiet back roads. Only a few minutes on the quiet road and I heard what sounded like a helicopter hovering over me.

A tire had gone flat. Stranded, alone, on the side of a quiet road, terrified someone unusual person would pull over, intent on doing something to me. A few cars passed, but none stopped. My cell signal was terrible.

Eventually, a man and his daughters pulled over. He fixed my tire as his daughters, dressed for dance class, sat in their van, waiting patiently and trying to make me feel better. An hour later, my tire fixed, the girls had missed dance class.

I felt terrible, but they seemed happy to make me happy. I was so grateful, touched by their acts of kindness. They followed me to work to make sure my spare held up. As I got out of my car they drove off, waving goodbye.

I told my story to everyone at work. A few days later, the father brought the girls to my work; they wanted know how I was doing. The girls came in and hugged me; they had drawn me pictures, it was an incredible feeling.

I told them all to sit down. I got them all lunch on me. Even though they only ate burgers and fries, I could never repay those little kids for making me feel so safe and loved. I never saw them again, but I tell this story often because of how a random act of kindness can touch another in ways you will never know.

Women customers surprised me, at first; some still catch me off guard. My first week on the job, a group of cute girls came in for lunch. One of the women handed me a note, while I served their orders.

In the back room, I read her note. She wrote that I was hot. She asked if I would go out for drinks, with her, and back to her place for some alone time?

The note floored me. I think I was a little red in the face when I went to get their check. She asked if I was uncomfortable. I said, “I have a boyfriend, the jealous type.”

Over the next few weeks, more and more women hit on me. Women gave me their cell numbers or their email addresses. A few asked if I would meet them after I finished work.

There was a drop-dead gorgeous woman, staying in a hotel down the street. She was in town for a convention of teachers. Along with a huge tip, she gave me her hotel key and said, “See you about midnight?” She told me straight out she wanted to have sex with me and would not talk no for an answer.

Hooters are busy restaurants. I’m going strong and on my feet from the start of any shift until the end. Last Spring Break, I served a table of young women down on a week off from school. They obviously had too much to drink that night.

One of these young women was a tiny, with brown hair, huge boobs and model quality. She flirted with me the entire evening. Before I gave the table their final check, this one woman said, “If you want a tip, you need to give me your cell phone number.” I’ve heard this a thousand times, it never works, but this woman was persistent: “I’ll be back at closing and we can go for a walk on the beach.”

True to her word, she was back at closing for a final drink and got my attention. “Are you free to go out after work,” she said. I tried telling her I wasn't that type of girl, but she had a soft, sexy voice that drove me crazy.

Against my better judgment, I said, “We can here, in the bar, and have a drink, after I close.” I knew I’d feel safe. It would be only us talking.

She agreed. I closed the restaurant. We had a few drinks and talked.

I have never been with another woman, in my life. This petite woman was beginning to wear me down. She was so persistent I almost took up her offers and went down the road to her room.

I talked myself out of it. She told me she is coming back next spring break and she will close the deal. I guess we will see.

Hooters restaurants are thirty years old, the formula works. I must admit is that I was completely wrong assuming it was an easy job. I was also wrong assuming workers at Hooters would set me up for life.

The work is extremely difficult. You bust your butt, serving tables that are constantly full every day of the year. Hooters restaurants churn customers, fast. Servers are always moving. It is so much harder than I ever imagined.

Something else I assumed, wrongly, was I would launch a career as a “Hooters Girl” superstar. There are many events all year long, such as swimsuit competitions and conventions, store openings. A few servers get to join each event. The culling process is strict. You need to invest a lot of time. You can only hope to get in on certain paying events. It's like a Dallas Cheerleader, you need to tryout, repeatedly, and only a few make it big.

I will always love Hooters and it will always be a part of me. I would tell any young woman, considering a job at Hooters, to understand, first, that it’s a job. You will work, hard. You aren't going to throw on the uniform and head right to photo shoots. The company will treat you well. If you want to pursue the competitions and become a star, you will need to invest a ton of time and be prepared to face some of the most amazingly beautiful girls on this planet as your direct competition. If you can handle that, you will go far.

Jane Doe writes from the American South East.

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