AUBURN, Ala.- For Hoperia Johnson, life has not been easy since early Sunday morning.
Everywhere I go, people are saying,”Oh, you’re the girl from the Waffle House,” Johnson said. “It’s really harassing because you don’t want to have to relive that moment everyday of your life.”
Johnson is one of the women in the video that has been circulating on social media of two Auburn Waffle House waitresses fighting.
Johnson said that she came to the area from Alexander City after the first of the year and needed a job. She applied for and received a position at the Opelika Road Waffle House where she had been working since January 21. Johnson said that it was a great experience, and it gave her the chance to meet new friends. One of those friends was a woman by the name of Alex. Alex is the other woman in the video.
Johnson said the two were like sisters.
“Alex has been there for me and my kids as well,” Johnson said. “We were total strangers. She didn’t have to do that. We talked about a lot of things that you don’t talk to other people about. In my heart, Alex really was like a sister to me.
Johnson said that the two shared the frustration that the store was understaffed, and they were trying to do numerous things at once to make up for it.
The night the incident took place, Johnson said that Alex was not herself, and she contacted the district manager to let them know but never heard back. Johnson felt that the whole situation that followed could have been avoided if there was a response.
Before the incident took place, Johnson said she had a table of 14 people come in, which she served. She said that Alex also had two tables. Once those two tables were done, Johnson said she was going to step off the floor so she could add up her tickets. Other customers came into the restaurant, and Johnson told Alex that two tables just came in. Johnson said Alex was not going to take care of the tables because she was not on the serving floor. Johnson told her that she was not allowed to get off the floor. According to Johnson, Alex replied that Hoperia got off the floor to add her tickets. Johnson told her that she did get off the floor to add up the tickets, but got right back out.
Shortly after, a customer asked Johnson if she was the only one working and Johnson replied that Alex was also working. The customer asked Johnson why Alex was sitting down, and according to Johnson, the customer complained.
Johnson said that she texted the manager saying that the cook stepped outside despite orders that needed to be taken, and Alex was outside with tables to be served. According to Johnson, Alex came back in, and then a customer asked Johnson for a fork.
“The dishes were piled up, and we didn’t have any forks so I went to the dish pit and said, “Excuse me, Alex. I need to wash this fork,” Johnson said. “Alex didn’t move. I said “Excuse me, Alex.” She still didn’t move. So, in frustration I took the fork and threw the fork down in the dish pit and turned around.”
When Johnson turned around, she said Alex started cursing at her, pushed her, then Johnson pushed back.
The next thing she knew, Alex started swinging at Johnson.
“She hit me twice before I realized I needed to get her off of me,” Johnson said. “So, I put her in a headlock, and she was still combative. Honestly, all I had to do at the time was fight her off of me enough. If you pay attention to the video, I show restraint because that was my friend. I did not want to hurt her.”
After the fight, the two waited on the manager to show up, but Johnson said that a manager from a different store showed up to fire the both of them, but the toughest part for Johnson is the rocky relationship this has caused between them.
“It’s a bad feeling because I only have two friends here,” Johnson said. “Alex was one of them. It’s very rocky. We talk, but I can tell the way she responds that she’s still hurt about the whole incident, and I apologize to her.”
Johnson hopes to repair the relationship between the two.