Monday, June 11, 2007

Ashlyn--Welcome to Headlights!

Liz is back

Last Thursday, without any fanfare, the original Liz returned to Boston. I didn’t find out until the following day—and then it was by email. Liz’s email was short and sweet:

Thank you for what you and Arthur have done for me these past months. I am back in my life, back with Ray, and I am sorting everything out. I want to see you and talk to you—but not now. I want to spend a little time not thinking about what I went through…and seeing you would only remind me.


Something about Liz’s email pissed me off. Maybe it’s because I felt so left out from what was going on—After Art being in Liz’s life for so long, I felt I got to know her and Ray. When I really stop and think about it—maybe I just miss Art, and somehow I blame Liz for not being Art. I know, not rational. Maybe being a redhead all this time is finally getting to me. ;)

Smile, and make eye contact

I used to be a work-a-holic. In my previous life, I liked my job as a computer animator and visual effects guy. Sure, I worked insane hours and my personal life was pretty non-existent—but I felt a lot of pride in what I did for a living. I hope to do that kind of work again someday, once I get out from under some of my money woes and I can buy a computer good enough to do that kind of work.

I used to define myself by my work. Whenever I would meet someone new, and they would ask me about myself, I would always tell them about what I did for a living—it was the most interesting thing about me.

Which is why interviewing for a job at Headlights was so difficult for me. I once did work that was creative, technically challenging and geeky in a cool sort of way. All the job at Headlights really requires is that my boobs look good in the tank top. I feel I’ve let myself down.
Before my interview on Friday I called my new friend Heather. She’s worked some of the radio station promotion gigs with me, she works at Headlights, and she’s putting a good word in for me with Rick the manager. She was nice enough to meet me for coffee and let me pick her brain a little.

We decided to meet at the Starbucks inside the CambridgeSide Mall. I have been avoiding Starbucks lately; it’s a deceptively expensive habit to have--$4 for a grande chai adds up quickly if you go many times a week. I decided to let myself live a little since this was a ‘business’ meeting, and I was just beginning to savor my chai when Heather walked in. Heather, like all the girls who work the radio promotion gigs with me, is hot. She has beautiful chestnut eyes and hair, and a curvy and fit body. She gives me a hug like she’s known me all my life; Heather is just friendly that way.

“I’m so excited you are going to interview!” She says enthusiastically.

I knew from previous Starbucks excursions that Heather was also a chai person, and I had gotten her one as well, she gratefully accepted it.

“Thanks for putting in a good word for me. I’m a little nervous about the interview…I was hoping to get some pointers.” I say.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about. Being a Headlights girl is all about being fun and flirty. So smile a lot and make lots of eye contact. Once you get the job—I just know you will—they’ll put you through two weeks of training where they push “smile and make eye contact” constantly. If you can show you can do that in the interview you’ll be ahead of the game. “

“Cool. I can do that.” I say.

“Don’t worry about dressing up to much for the interview, but do spend time on your hair and make-up. All they really care about is how you look in the outfit, and they’ll ask you to try one on to see how you look in it. They will say you don’t have to try it on in the interview process, but if you want the job you’ll do it. Oh, take a pair of the whitest running shoes you have with you. They have spare uniforms, but not spare trainers. “

I took out a piece of paper and wrote down a reminder to bring running shoes to the interview. Heather laughed at me.

“I can’t believe your taking notes. You need to relax, being a Headlights girl is easy. If you are going to be that serious about this, then add ‘suntan’ pantyhose and white socks to your list. You’ll look like the real thing. “ She took a sip of her chai. “Putting on the outfit for the first time is a little nerve-wracking. I remember. Just fight your way through it, be confident, and try to have a good time with it. Oh! And one last thing—go out and buy a hula-hoop and practice using it.”

“You’re kidding.” I give her an incredulous look.

“I’m not. During my interview they had me put on the outfit and do the hula-hoop thing. Rick told me if I was able to do two hoops at the same time the job was mine on the spot. Unfortunately, I hadn’t played with a hula-hoop since I was a kid, so I couldn’t quite pull it off.”

Hula-hoops. What am I getting myself into?

Two days later I’m standing in front of my local Headlights restaurant. My interview was for 10 am, and I was early. The doors were locked, so I knocked and within moments a giant muscular man with bronze skin opened the door. He had short, slicked back black hair and brown eyes that reminded me of Heathers.

“Rick?” I ask.

He shook his head no and stuck out his hand for a handshake. “I’m Jorge. You must be Ashlyn.”

I nodded and gave him a big smile—I thought I might as well get into ‘game face’.

“Rick’s in his office.” He held the door open to me, inviting me inside. As I entered the building I looked up at Jorge—he was so big it was intimidating, I felt like a child standing next to an adult. I followed him through the main dining room toward a hallway that led to the kitchen. The dining room was empty with the exception of the bar area--we pass a Headlights girl who was already there behind the bar, stocking up for day. She gave a friendly wave.

“That’s Jo; she’s one of the bartenders.” Jorge says motioning to the woman stocking the bar. “She makes this drink called a Cherry Vodka Limeade. It’s kind of a girly drink, but it is soooo good.”

We made through the kitchen we had a few people preparing for the lunch crowd. The kitchen was all metal shelves, appliances, and cookware—everything looked spotless.

“You should see this place right at lunch—it’s crazy busy in here then.” Jorge says.
Finally we make it to Rick’s office—I knew that to be the case because the door had a sign saying just that: Rick’s Office.

Rick turned out be a good looking guy in his late thirties. He looked a bit like Jorge—except Rick was more ‘normal’ sized than Jorge.

“Are you guys related?” I asked as Jorge walked away.

Rick smiled and shook his head yes. “Jorge is my little brother.”


“How about younger?”

I made sure to laugh at his joke. He comes over and carefully shakes my hand and motions to a chair across from his desk. Rick’s desk is a mess, and he digs around on it for a moment before he discovers the papers he is look for.

“Ah, here we go. Ashlyn Shelly.” He stops and gives me a once over. “Heather has said good things about you.”

The interview was pretty standard for the first ten to fifteen minutes; Heather had suggested I come clean about my experiences at my last job—even the fact that I was fired. Rick seemed to take the news in stride. “I believe in fresh starts here.” He tells me.

Eventually the conservation takes a more Headlights tone. Rick takes out a form and hands it to me to read. It was an ‘acknowledgement form’. I basically said that the job requires I wear the Headlights girl uniform, I was required to interact and entertain the guests, and that the Headlights concept was based on ‘Female sex appeal’.

“Are you comfortable signing that?” Rick asked.

Smiling, and making eye contact I say “Absolutely.” He hands me a pen and I sign.

Rick smiles back at me and clasps his hands together, pleased. “Excellent. How do you feel about trying the uniform on?”

I ended up changing in the women’s restroom. The uniform consisted of a white tank top with an image of a smiling car with the word ‘Headlights’ written in prominent letters displayed on the front, some brightly colored shorts, and a tan ticket pouch. I had brought a backpack with me with the items I needed to finish out the uniform and make me authentic looking: the pantyhose, socks and shoes. I got out of my clothes and into the outfit. Within minutes I was looking back into the mirror at a Headlights girl--my boobs did look good in the tank top, the scoop neck revealed a ton of cleavage. My first thought was “wow, I look hot” followed quickly by “wow, I look like a total idiot”.

I touched up my makeup and hair, adjust my boobs, take a deep breath, and stepped out into the restaurant. I had to walk through the dining room to get back to Rick’s office. It was close to eleven now, and people were starting to show up. I passed several guys on my way back—they checked me out, I gave them a big smile. A Headlights girl saw me and gave me a thumbs up. “Looking good!” she called out to me.

I step back into Rick’s office and he gives me a big smile. “You look great!”
He then proceeds to look me over closely—very closely. It kind of made me tense.

“Sorry. I have to check for tattoos. Tattoos are not allowed to show outside of the uniform.”

“I don’t have any.”

“Perfect. I have one more thing I would like you to do.” We walked back out to the dining room and Rick grabs one of the many hula-hoops leaning on one wall. I knew what was coming. I take the hoop and in moments had it spinning around myself.

“If you can do two, you’ve got the job.” He tells me.

I was so prepared, I had practiced for hours. Without stopping, I stick my hand out. “Hand me a hoop.”

Rick hands me a hoop, and several other Headlights girls have gathered to watch. They began to clap in encouragement. I give the second hoop a spin and while it was awkward at first, I got it under control and got both gyrating around me.

Everyone clapped.

“This is Ashlyn; she’s our new Headlights girl.” Rick announces to the group.

“Way to go Ashlyn!”

I never stopped with the hoops. I decided if I was going to do this job, I was going to do it on my own terms—that meant I was going to be a professional, I’m going to be the best Headlights girl I could be. “I’m not done yet. Hand me another hoop.” Like I said, I had practiced for hours.
One of the girls handed me a third hoop. A chant of “ASHLYN” started up. I think even the customers were into it at this point. Just like the second hoop, I struggled with it a first—I very nearly lost it, but was able to pull it off. A cheer goes up.

I eventually lose control of the hoops and they fall. Everyone is laughing, clapping. I pick the hoops up and turn to Rick. “So, if I couldn’t do the double hoops, would I have still gotten the job?”

He grins at me. “I decided to hire you before you even got into the outfit. The hula-hoop thing is just an initiation we do here. Heather was pissed she wasn’t going to be here to see you do it. What until she hears you did three!” He pats me on the back. “Welcome to Headlights!”

Heather was right, Headlights is going to be a fun place to work—interesting—but fun.



Anonymous said...

It all sounds fairly grotesque, but I guess when every normal restaurant has blackballed you, you can't be too choosy. Is "Headlights" a real restaurant, or is this just a roman à clef name for Hooters?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of that McDowell's restaurant in the movie ... the one that was a knock-off of any McDonald's restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when it works right in preview, and then messes-up when you post. *sigh*

The movie I was referring to is "Coming to America".

At least the link still works.