Alabama Waffle House serving up ‘sign-language special’

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 12:13 PM CST
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HOPE HULL, Ala. (WSFA) - Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the walls at Waffle House restaurants have pretty much seen and heard it all. Well, maybe not everything.

“I was in awe,” said Waffle House area manager Michael Clements. “I’ve never seen that in my career.”

It started a few years ago when Pookie White was hired as a dishwasher. After a short time, Pookie wanted to cook.

“I wondered how it was going to work,” said Clements.

Pookie is deaf, so getting the orders to him would be tricky.

“He’s half deaf and I’m wearing a mask, so I have to use sign language,” said waitress Jessie Simmons.

Simmons learned it on the fly, practicing every day. Now she and Pookie are on the same page most of the time.

“I have given plenty of wrong signals, but we fixed it,” said Clements.

Pookie has a lot of fun with it. When asked about some of the signs, he did the chicken dance when someone orders chicken. He also doesn’t mind giving them a playful hard time when they’re placing the order.

When Pookie White moved from dishwasher to cook, they had a small issue at the Hope Hull...
When Pookie White moved from dishwasher to cook, they had a small issue at the Hope Hull Waffle House. He's deaf. So the staff took it upon themselves to learn sign language and now he's making meals.(WSFA)

“She’s slow sometimes,” said Waffle House Cook Pookie White. “It gets on my nerves.”

Pookie says it with a smile knowing his coworkers have done a lot on their own to make this work.

One customer was so impressed she called corporate to brag. She’s not alone.

“He has regular customers who come just to see him,” said area manager Michael Clements. “They love the show. That’s part of the thing about Waffle House we are right in front of everybody on center stage. He eats the center stage up.”

Coworkers enjoy him for a variety of reasons.

“I’d rather work with him because he don’t talk back,” said waitress Jessie Simmons.

Management is all smiles when asked about the team effort at the Hope Hull Waffle House.

“They could have just not wanted to do that and consequently, he probably would have failed at cooking,” said Clements.

He’s thriving now. Just a “sign” of the times in Hope Hull. This crew makes quite a team, a real All-Star Special, if you will.

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