They tell us to leave our personal problems at the door, and that's really hard. It's even hard for managers. Everybody has their bad days, and when you're having a terrible day and then you have to go home and take a shower and make yourself all pretty to go to work at Hooters, you feel better about yourself, but it's not easy.
Being a Hooters Girl is constant acting. They want us to be the all-American cheerleader, bubbly, have our lip gloss on, always smiling. They want us all to conform to this image and this standard, but then the customers love our individuality. You have to balance what the manager wants and what the customer wants. You have to put on a facade. The week after my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, it was so hard for me to put on that uniform and that facade. But I knew I had to do it, so I just worked my way through it. I just put myself in a different mental state. I took reality out of it and went into Hooters Girl Mode.
There's a common misconception that we're a titty bar, but that's not how it is. We have families in. On Sunday, we have a church rush come in. I have regulars that are an older couple, and they love us and love the food. They just love hanging out with us. They'll come about twice a week and they're awesome. They're not there for the entertainment or the women. They're there for the food and because they love us.
We have a meeting before every shift, and in that shift meeting, they remind us of the specials, they remind us that we need to get customer surveys done, and then we do what's called "Image Check." They go down the line, we turn a circle, and our bosses make sure that our shoes are clean, our socks are clean, we don't have rips in our tights, our shirts aren't faded. If anything's wrong with our uniform, we have to fix it before we go out on the floor. They also check our hair and makeup and make sure we're always picture perfect.
I was a little nervous going through that the first couple of times, having a manager look me over — especially somebody who was as old as my father. At first, it was kind of like: Are they going to be looking at me like that? But after a few times, it was all professional and that nervousness of Image Check became goofy. We joke with our managers during the check now.
The first day is the most nerve wracking. The first day I wore my uniform, I was out on the floor, and I was nervous. But then I got into work mode. Any girl likes compliments. Any girl likes guys looking at her. You get lots of compliments, lots of numbers, lots of men wanting to go out with you. I have a few regulars who come in on a daily or weekly basis who have become very close friends with me. I've taken regulars up on offers to hang out after I've known them a few months, but I've never really gone on a date with a customer. It's more of just hanging out with other Hooter Girls and regulars. There are girls who do work there and find a man that they would like to go out with, but I'm just not that type. I go to work for work, not to pick up men.
We're paid like normal waitresses, so my whole check pretty much goes to taxes and I live on my tips. My checks are always zero dollars because of the taxes. If you have a bad night, you're not getting paid out. You just hope the next night is better. Our managers expect us to make about $100 in tips per shift. Sometimes that doesn't happen, but by the end of the week it pretty much evens out. Some weeks, I make several hundred dollars, and other weeks I only make a couple hundred dollars. But at the end of the year, when I'm doing my taxes, I make more than any of my friends who are in college and I normally work less hours. I work three to four days a week, and I'm still making more money than most of my friends my age. There are nights when I'll walk out with only $20 bucks if we're dead, but then I'll have a night where I'll make $200. It all evens out.
There's regulars who come in by themselves who are awesome —- who don't disrespect us. I feel like they've been socially awkward their whole lives. He's probably single. He's probably been single his whole life, and he just wants to see a few hot chicks and drink some beer. They come in because they want attention and they know that's what we're going to give them, because they're paying for that —- which, you know, kinda sounds like prostitution! (laughs)
I feel like when you're talking to a customer you know or a customer who has been there for several hours, you can get real and you can share a little more about your life. Customers will share stories with me. But then there are also those guys who you don't want to make comments to you because they make really creepy ones. When you approach the table, you can tell just by reading body language and how they look at you and the tone of their voice whether the guy is like that. You smile and you laugh off the nasty comments and you try to make it a joke and you deal with it. You act as professional as you can. You just can't get mad at them. You kinda feel sorry for them. Normally, those guys tip the worst.
I personally haven't had to deal with someone groping me, but I have had Hooters girl friends who it has happened to. The moment that it happens, we're required by our policies to tell a manager, and that customer is to pay their tab and leave the building, because that is not something that Hooters condones or will put up with. I've known girls who've gone to the manager, and I've known girls who were too embarrassed. They just kind of laughed it off and kept waiting on the table because they thought the tip was more important. If it happened to me, I would most definitely report it. I'd go straight to my manager and say: "Get this dude out of here." I respect myself, and I think of it as if my dad is always standing there watching me. Would he appreciate that and how would he react?
I definitely want people to respect me. We're not bimbos. That's a common misconception. There are a lot of people who come into Hooters who believe we're just Hooters Girls, and that's all we do. Most of us are in college. I work with mothers who are raising children by working at Hooters. Hooters supports us, and supports their kids. Not all Hooters Girls are intelligent, but I think a lot of the bimbo-ness is when girls act like they're stupid because they know they can get better tips that way. A lot of the girls are a lot more intelligent than they act of the floor, but they feel like that's what the customers want.
Personally, I take different approaches with different tables. Of course, I'm going to treat a table of military men different than I'm going to treat a family. But I find that if customers do start asking questions, they prefer that I'm intelligent. Being intelligent impresses everybody more. It's like: "Wow, she's hot AND she's got brains." So I normally don't play the bimbo act. Unless I mess up an order.