Jordan’s mother, Ethel, worked at the Burger King and encouraged her to get a job there for $1.05 an hour. Whopper hamburgers cost 39 cents and sodas cost a nickel, she said.
“I wasn’t too keen on it at first. I just thought, ‘I’m going to work with hamburgers?’” Jordan said with her infectious laugh. “My Dad kind of teased me and said, ‘Oh, Betty won’t work there long.’ So I thought, ‘I’m going to show him!’ And I guess after 46 years, I have.”
Jordan, a lifelong Marietta resident and graduate of Osborne High School, said she has seen every change imaginable in the store after working at virtually the same location for nearly half a century. The Burger King where she was hired was just a few feet down the street where a pawn shop now stands. That property was owned by former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, who Betty said would come in with his wife and say hello to her even up until his death.
Jordan remembers making drinks with sugar and syrup; when the grills were much bigger and messier; when cutting lettuce, tomatoes and cheese by hand was part of the daily routine; and even when the burger giant served hot dogs for a nickel.
Jordan’s love for her job and the people she worked with radiates as she flips through her scrapbook of old photos she kept beginning in 1970. The book is filled with pages of managers past, numerous uniforms and hairstyles, and many people she fondly remembers.
“My husband didn’t really want me to work because he said he could provide for us, but I wanted my own money, and I wanted to be able to see people every day,” Jordan said of her late husband, Jack, who worked for Food Giant in Marietta for 25 years.
“My husband and I both knew that God had given us good health and we were able to work every day, and we wanted to save up as much money as we could so that we could have a good retirement,” Jordan said.
Lindsey and Jewel Coggin of Smyrna said they have been coming to the Burger King at 2112 South Cobb Drive for more than 30 years, and much of that reason was because they knew Jordan would be there to greet them.
“She always has a smile on her face and welcomes everyone in,” Jewel Coggin said.
“She is very, very nice,” Lindsey Coggin added. “We need a lot more Bettys, especially in this day and age.”
Jordan never sought to be a store manager and instead trained employees, as she said she liked interacting with customers and employees and teaching them. And the company she’s dedicated the majority of her life to has been good to her, she said. The company sent her and her husband on trips to Hawaii twice, a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean, and a trip to the Super Dome in New Orleans in the ’90s to reward her for her dedication to the company.
Jordan said the keys to enjoying work are to not gossip about others; to be nice to everyone, even if they are rude; to help others; and to appreciate everything.
This year marked Jordan’s 65th birthday and eighth anniversary of beating breast cancer. Wednesday was a sad day for her, she said, as she was leaving friends behind, many of whom have been there all along the way. But she also added that retirement will give her more time to spend with other friends, to continue her volunteerism at local nursing homes and to visit her mountain home.
“I guess I’m going to be making a switch from employee to customer now, since I promised some in the breakfast crew I’d come out and join them,” Jordan said, with a laugh. “But I have a lot to do. I’ve got a lot to keep me busy.”