Shared Journey: The Joke’s on Me-My Stint at Hooters

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I never envisioned myself to be working at a “breastaurant” but life works in mysterious ways. Moving to Miami with a suitcase, no guarantees, and a few goals to seize compelled me to have to act outside of my comfort zone. You could say that I left town on a whim and the instinct that things were going to work in my favor. After my first week of attending the so-called marketing interviews that I lined up while I was still in Detroit, my frustration began to build. Somehow, the marketing jobs that promised a six figure salary after selling ballpoint pens and discount toilet paper door-to-door for less than minimum wage seemed more like an underground office supply exploitation led by Tony Robbins-esque charlatans. I just wasn’t sure if saying chants in the morning, thumping on my chest and speeding off by foot into the industrial labyrinths of Doral was for me, but I was certainly impressed by the Venezuelan kid who tirelessly kept at it in 90 degree weather for the eight hour shadowing period required of new recruits. Needless to say, I turned those jobs down.

Back then, I was living in a bunk bed next to this kid named Steve from Ohio. Steve was a sports writer for the Miami Marlins and we were both just trying to make ends meet. One night, we ventured off to Bayside Marketplace and while I window shopped, he was grabbing a beer at Hooters. He called me to come over when he told me he was sitting next to a couple of valuable connections he met that could help me achieve my personal goals. From there, the manager offered me an application and I thought it was all some kind of bad joke. I had the opinion that Hooters girls weren’t the brightest of the bunch or that the job was just a step up from being a stripper in the back of my mind. I was extremely reluctant to be a part of it all.

The very next day, I found myself at the orientation with a nineteen-year-old. I just wasn’t all too sure about this. Once we were fitted in our lycras, hot orange shorts, and panty hose, we were transformed into what Hooters coins as “entertainers,” a loop hole that allows the girls to style their hair down instead of the more sanitary tied-back style other servers are required to wear.

Being located spot dead in the cruise capital of the world, you can imagine that working at the Hooters of Bayside is unlike working at any other Hooters in the World. Locals and tourists alike would swarm in on the weekends and it is by far the busiest.

There was this:

“¡Oye, mami! Quiero cinco alitas, empanizadas, salsa barbacoa, papitas fritas, y dame una cerveza.”

And then:

“Dê-me três doses de uísque. Obrigada”

Or it would be the lady who would insist to come in so she could make fun of me to her boyfriend behind my back and not leave a tip.

To my surprise, much of the people that came to eat at Hooters were large families and children.

Sometimes during the day, we’d be so dead. I’d lean on the food window with my arms folded and there were so many times that the cooks caught me daydreaming of a different life while my empty gaze shifted into oblivion as I stared at my single food ticket. I never made much money there, but it got me to where I needed to be, which I am grateful for. The girls that worked at Hooters Bayside came in all shapes, complexions, and backgrounds, all with a unique brand of beauty. You could say that they all grew on me, and the memories I’ll keep from the restaurant will always be ones that make me smile.

While curly fries and hamburgers aren’t in themselves enlightening, here’s some food for thought; what I got out of Hooters was the hustle and heart. It tacked on this serious humility that I wasn’t too good for anything. This job was an opportunity to make some money to reach my goals. It taught me to be resourceful. Other people may not be as scrappy and take much longer and spend a lot more money trying to turn their lives around. With this attitude being my foundation, I have been more open to doing things and meeting people and spending my time in places that maybe someone with a more traditional path would think is too small or not deserving of their time or their energy.

I think Kat Cole, another former Hooters waitress and current CEO of Cinnabon said it best,

“When you have people who question why you are where you are, or who treat you very differently, as if you don’t deserve to be there because you’re young, or female, or in my case, a Hooters girl, it’s really interesting the muscle that that builds,” she said. “You have to develop that over time to not be totally shaken every time you walk into a boardroom, or every time someone is an asshole.”

I left my job at Hooters nearly a year ago, just four months after taking it, to get to my next stepping stone. I started off thinking that everyone else there looked foolish, but decided that I was foolish myself for not seeing it as opportunity for growth. Now I’m determined to let my story find as much success in my own right as hers did.

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5 thoughts on “Shared Journey: The Joke’s on Me-My Stint at Hooters

  1. Inspiring story. Thanks or sharing it, and best wishes for the future. I know that marketing is a really hard field, my son graduated with a marketing degree and experienced some of your frustration with the “opportunities”.

    Like

  2. Everything, and I mean everything, in life, has a purpose. It all depends if the person sees what purpose each phase means. Congrats on seeing the value of that experience; you’re one of few.

    Like

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