Apparently tonight was my TV marathon night. I don’t have cable or dish or anything you have to pay for so my choices were limited to Olympic ice skating, re-runs of The Office or this new show, Undercover Boss. I generally don’t care for reality TV (TAR and Fear Factor being the notable exceptions) but I’m tired of Micheal Scott’s boobishness and I’m not a 60 year old woman so…Undercover Boss it was!
Obviously, my expectations were very low but I was pleasantly surprised. If you don’t know the premise of the show, CEOs perform the functions of an employee while incognito. Tonight the president/CEO of Hooters, Coby Brooks, visited several locations of the restaurant. At one, he was a bus boy; another the assistant manager. To explain the camera crew, he said he was making a documentary about entry level jobs. He found the kitchen staff to be unappreciated and overworked, the waitresses subjected to humiliation by misogynistic male managers as well as good people doing the best they can.
In one segment, he and two waitresses passed out samples of wings on a street corner. He learned from conversations with passersby (all women of varying ages) that Hooters is considered kinda dirty and degrading to women. He truly seemed shocked by this. I was more shocked by the rolls of flesh many of the waitresses sported above their orange shorts. But I digress.
After visiting a few locations, he arranged to have several employees brought to corporate headquarters to reveal the deception. He showed great kindness to a manager, a terrible terrible man. Coby witnessed this man put the waitresses of his location through a public inspection of their hair, nails, make-up and uniform, punctuated with cutting and rude remarks. He also made the waitresses compete for an afternoon off by eating a plate of baked beans without using their hands. Whichever girl cleaned her plate first got to go home. (I honestly found this more graphic and shocking than the video of the deadly luge accident at the Olympics.) This “manager” appeared to relish humiliating them and Coby’s face was awesome to watch. He was biting his tongue so hard and trying to keep control. I am assuming he/his lawyers had final cut approval and the fact he/they allowed this to air did make me respect Coby Brooks’ management. He was gentle but firm with this man and made it clear there was no room for such behavior in his company and admonished him to treat his staff with the respect they deserve.
He showed great generosity to a few waitresses. One woman was stressed out, trying to work and still have time for her kids and he sent them on a vacation to anywhere in the world they chose to go. He then found a different position for her within the company, one allowing her more time with her family. He offered to put two butterfaces (the ones he passed out samples with) in training videos for new employees. That part made me laugh for some reason.
It was far more interesting that I had expected and, should it air again and nothing better is on network TV, I would watch it again.