Being a server is tough. And when you're doing all this in shiny, orange hot pants and a cleavage-baring top with a wide-eyed owl, well, it only gets worse. [via lemondrop]
I've worked as a waitress for the last four years -- since I was 17 -- and I've been a Hooters Girl for the past eight months. But before you shout "Objectification!" here are the pros and cons of being a Hooters Girl.
The Dark Side
1. The Uniform
It's hard to say which part of the Hooters uniform is the most ridiculous: the miniscule, camel-toe inducing, unflatteringly-colored tangerine hot pants? The bodacious, "Flashdance" scrunch socks? The thick, suffocating, unnaturally colored pantyhose that require a gymnastics routine to peel on and off? Each time I wrestle myself into this outrageous ensemble, I struggle to comprehend how anyone can find such an absurd outfit sexy. Seriously, no one's ass looks good in shiny orange shorts!
2. The Dramatics
At any restaurant, a certain amount of gossip and conflict is inevitable. But when you're working with 30 to 150 attractive women in their late teens and early 20s, well, jealous bickering, immature backstabbing and angry tears are all too common. Allegations of table thieving, mascara stealing and pantyhose poaching are bandied about regularly and are damn near impossible to avoid. And it almost always ends in tears.
3. The Stigma
Whenever I tell someone what I do, I brace for their reaction. More often than not, it's negative. Many people -- who often have never even set foot in the restaurant -- carry a wealth of erroneous, preconceived opinions about the company and the women who work there. We're stereotyped as ditzy, slutty, gold-digging bimbos. They picture a strip joint filled with topless waitresses, wet T-shirt contests, body shots and hidden champagne rooms. In reality, we show less skin than the typical high school student. Also, the vast majority Hooters Girls are intelligent college students or working professionals.
4. Bizarre Rules
Like most corporate environments, Hooters has strict policies. But some of them are really bizarre -- seemingly inconsequential things like bobby pins or elastic hair bands are banned and grounds for termination. We can be fired regularly for things like rolling the waistband of their shorts (some girls who aren't as bootylicious as others do this to make their shorts fit better), neglecting to change torn nylons, or for wearing the wrong-colored bra (white or nude) – and it happens regularly. The turnover rate at Hooters is high, even by restaurant standards, but there is always a long list of girls who are eager to fill their places. Everyone is completely expendable.
5. The Customers
As part of my job description, I am required to engage customers -- many of whom are socially disinclined -- in conversation, coaching fully formed words from the ones who cannot look a woman in the eye without blushing and feigning interest in the ones who drone on and on while staring intently at my breasts. I tolerate horrendous body odor, tired jokes, hot sauce-smeared faces and enough sexual innuendo to make me want to switch teams.
The Good Stuff
1. The Money
Make no mistake about it; we're paid well for our troubles. While the hourly wage for a server is usually around $2, the average tip more than makes up for it. A server at Applebee's or Red Robin can expect about 15 to 20 percent, our tips begin at 20 percent. But it's more often around 50 or 100 percent, if not more. A Hooters Girl at a high-volume restaurant may leave for the night with several hundred dollars in her pocket. Whether these exorbitant tips are left out of appreciation or pity that we must dress like an '80s gym teacher is debatable.
2. The Lack of Physical Effort Required
In many restaurants, servers have a hefty amount of aptly named side work -- rolling silverware, busing tables, washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, and dusting the ridiculous array of assorted crap that is tacked to the walls in nearly every mid-level restaurant. At Hooters, such mundane chores are kept to a minimum. Instead, free time is spent entertaining customers, sitting and chatting with your tables and prancing around looking pretty.
3. The Atmosphere
Unless you are one of the cast members of "High School Musical," it's unlikely that your job includes dancing and singing. But these things are encouraged as a Hooters Girl. Choreographed dances, birthday chants, bachelor party songs, trivia games, scavenger hunts, hop scotch, hula-hooping ... those are just some of the activities we get to do. While working. And we learn fun bar tricks, like how to balance a pitcher of sangria on our heads without losing a drop, or how to pour a beer while swirling a hula hoop around our waist. And when we're not doing that, we're just chilling with our customers. You'd be hard-pressed to find a work atmosphere like this anywhere else.
4. The Camaraderie
When dozens of young women are faced with the daunting task of keeping a restaurant full of lecherous old men under control on a regular basis, a bit of a bond is formed. Though conflict between co-workers is common (see above), in the end, we all have one another's backs. This, combined with the almost brotherly sense of protection that the kitchen crew has for us, makes for a surprisingly secure and loving workplace.
5. The Customers
Though they may be few and far between, most Hooters Girls cultivate a crew of dependable regulars over time. These are the gentlemen who offset our most horrid customers and prevent us from becoming too jaded against men. We see them at least once or twice a week. They always sit in our section, tipping well and treating us even better. Over time, these guys often become close friends with their favorite Hooters Girls, the Hooters managers, and the kitchen staff. Occasionally, they become part of the Hooters family.
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