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Little Rock Confidential 2013 

Trade secrets from a Hooter's waitress. What it's like to spend your life doing needle drugs. How a skin care specialist thinks about aging, and why a sound engineer spends so much time playing on his phone in the recording studio. The Arkansas Times asked people, what's your job (or the thing that keeps you from having a job) really like? Here are their answers.

Hooters Girl

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-racking. 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.

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