For over two decades officiating has been an enjoyable, and sometimes lucrative, avocation of mine. Basketball, soccer and girls lacrosse are my sports and I've spent many an evening or weekend officiating them.
One Saturday I had four lacrosse games to officiate. Naturally, after the assignments were dutifully completed, the obligatory post game refreshment stop at Hooter’s was ‘on tap’.
|Ray with a few of his favorite Hooters Girls, Crystal & Lauren.|
It only got tough when I headed off to another town seven miles south for three youth lacrosse contests. During the first game it started raining and never let up. We were on field turf so the games went on. It was literally bone chilling, working the games shivering and by the last contest feeling like you were running with fifteen extra pounds due to drenched clothing.
That Hooter’s stop was not to be denied. I drove the eight or so miles South to the Hackensack store. In uniform, from the field I swung the door open and got some incredulous looks. An entrance not unlike Rod Taylor barging in on guests, ragged and exhausted after returning from the futuristic journey in the original Time Machine. The girls knew what I had done. They were surprised we even played and were nothing but sympathetic when they heard our schedule. Customers asked the reasons behind my woefully freezing and soaked appearance. The girls with their hospitality and concern were fabulous. Another reason Hooter’s is such a special place with employees going that extra mile.
Regina was punching in an order when I came in. I worked some of her high school soccer games a few years ago so she knows my officiating routine. Having played she knew to ask what field turf facility I was working on. Lauren, in casual gear so I assumed she was getting off duty, showed a lot of concern and emphasized to "get dry as soon as possible." Crystal poured me a seven ounce beer. I sipped and still shivered. Another young lady, I believe it was Heather, talked sports after hearing my officiating exploits. Not to forget, Heather offered to put hot tea on for me given my sorry soaked state.
I enjoyed two small beers. I know it was cold, but the amber liquid in moderation replaces some fluids. Then a much needed coffee to go. After chatting with manager, I got a large cup filled to the brim. Still shivering some of the scalding beverage spilled a little on my hand. And it didn’t even hurt.
Walking to my car I couldn’t help think how wonderful and concerned these dedicated young ladies are. They made my visit in adverse conditions a lot better and for the first time in hours a feeling of warmth was returning.
The next day I officiated AAU basketball. I returned to the same Hackensack store a lot drier but made sure to say a sincere and appreciative thank you to the young ladies who worked when I was there a day ago.
“Hey, we were happy to help,” Lauren said. “We love you.” The feeling is mutual.