Working the drive-thru can be a tedious and stressful job. People are barking at you through a headset, and you have to make sure you do everything correctly. Sometimes though, it's not just people barking orders on the other end of the headset. The people in the following stories share the weirdest and rudest things they've ever heard at the other end of their headset.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
“I heard a guy order once and then heard him say, ‘Whoa! Oh, oh hey. Who? Oh, push it! Push it!’ I looked at the camera for the drive-thru and saw that his engine had caught fire while ordering and he was pushing the car out of the way.
Another strange thing happened when we had an accidental discharge of the fire suppression system for the grill. We had to shut down the store, and I put a sign directly over the speaker informing people that we had a ‘fire’ and would be shut down until further notice. Naturally, as it was lunchtime, we had a crowd of people trying to come and order. When they obviously didn’t read the sign, and I’d inform them we had a fire and couldn’t serve them, I had one lady say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, this is the worst customer service I’ve ever had!'”
Saving Lives At The Drive-Thru
“I may have saved a life at my late shift Wendy’s job. It was about 1:30 a.m., and we were all goofing around because usually we only got the occasional car full of people wanting a few burgers.
This particular night though a cop car pulled up. This was not really out of the ordinary. They placed their order, and I was about to tell them to drive forward when I heard one of them yell ‘Look out!’ Then a loud crash.
There was a squeal of tires, and then the cop car came around the bend to the pickup window. A big pick up truck followed quickly behind them but didn’t stop. He slammed right into them… again. This time the bumpers locked up, and they could not separate.
The cops stepped out and walked over to the truck. I ran out to see what was up. The guy in the pickup opened his door and practically rolled onto the ground. He looked up at them and tried to say something but ended up puking all over himself.
They let him finish up and asked me to bring them some napkins. I ran back and got a paper towel roll for them. The guy was slurring his words badly, and they were about to arrest him for driving under the influence, but I noticed he was wearing a MedicAlert bracelet. It turns out he was diabetic and in shock. He lost control of the truck when he came in and tried to get something to eat.
I ended up giving him a Frosty, and we called an ambulance. He was fully conscious by the time they came and got him. We had to call two tow trucks to get the drive-thru cleared, so that was one exciting night.”
“I was taking an order at Chick-fil-A. Customer starts with what sounds like, ‘I’ll take a cooowww meeeal.’
What? I said, ‘I’m sorry, could you repeat that?’ I turn the speaker on to get some extra volume because the headset is kind of crappy. The girl operating the cash register at the window behind me also turns to listen.
‘I’ll take a cooowww meeeal.’ Exact same enunciation, only louder. I turn to my coworker, who also has a confused look on her face.
‘Did she say ‘cow meal’?’ She asks.
‘That’s what I heard.’ I think she might be joking with me seeing as Chick-fil-A has a long-running ‘cows against burgers’ ad campaign. I respond to the customer, ‘I’m sorry, did you say ‘a cow meal’?’
HUGE mistake. Cue immediate screaming. ‘How dare you make fun of my accent!’
‘Sorry, ma’am. Could you please pull around?’ I tuck my tail between my legs, ditch the headset, and leave my coworker to deal with her. Not something I’m proud of, but it was a long night, and I was done.
It turns out the woman was saying, ‘child’s meal’ in the thickest, most cartoonish Southern accent I have ever heard in all my years of living in Virginia.”
The Drive-Thru Is Not A Brothel
“I worked at Taco Bell about ten years ago. We were getting slammed, non-stop cars. Suddenly the cars stopped coming, and we were all wondering what was going on. Someone was at the menu board but wasn’t talking, but we could hear some heavy breathing. We looked out the back door and saw about 20 cars backed up behind this car. My manager walked up to the car to see what was up. The guy has his lady friend going down on him. The manager told them to order or leave. They left.”
No One Understands How The Speaker Works!
“I worked at a relatively well-known burger franchise in Australia for three greasy years. Apart from the usual wasted people screaming/howling/barking down the speaker, I had a few (hundred) weird interactions.
One time on the late-night drive-thru, a car pulls up and I ask for their order. The guy starts speaking, then another dude yells over the top of him about me sucking his man bits. Silence. I sort of pause, and go, ‘Sir, if you won’t calm your passenger down I’m not going to take your order with him speaking to me like that.’
The guy driving goes, ‘That wasn’t my friend, a naked guy just ran in front of the speaker and yelled that.’ I take his order, and he drives around, and yes, his car is empty except for him. I did see a dude running around in the nude a few minutes later – I obviously kept the window and doors locked.
Another time I have a car pull up, and there is so much noise coming out of it over the headsets we assume it is a car driven by a mom (who is doing the ordering) and four noisy teenage boys. It is school rush, so this wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary. This woman is shouting down the speaker asking basic questions (‘What’s on this burger?’ There’s a picture right in front of you on the menu board!) for a good five minutes. She rolls forward, drives round to my window and turns out it’s just two old women in a tiny car with the radio blasting. It takes over ten minutes to get them out of the drive-thru as I’m fairly certain they have been drinking. At 3 p.m. That’s a whole other story. It is one of the strangest things my coworker and I have ever heard as we are both sure it was going to be four teenagers and their mother.
Our restaurant didn’t sell fried chicken, the only separate chicken product we had were chicken nuggets. Another time some woman drives up and says, ‘Can I have a whole fried chicken, please?’
I answer, ‘No. We don’t sell fried chicken. We have chicken burgers and nuggets, but not chicken parts.’
The woman says, ‘Oh, can I have two half chickens then?’
‘…No, we don’t sell fried chicken. We have chicken burgers and nuggets. We don’t sell like, chicken by itself or drumsticks or anything like that,’ I say.
‘Oh,’ the woman says in an annoyed tone. ‘Well, then can I have four quarters of chicken?’
‘Ma’am we do not sell quarters of chicken. We sell chicken burgers or nuggets.’ I look at the manager who is raising his eyebrows at me. ‘Look, if you want chicken, there’s a KFC down the road.’
The woman bafflingly replies, ‘But I want chicken. Can I have-‘ I decide just to have her drive through so I can explain at the window that we don’t sell whole, half, or quarter fried chicken, and there is a charcoal chicken in one direction, and the KFC in the other. Then, all of a sudden, she just swears and drives off. People are weird when they’re hungry.
Last, a coworker and I were working drive-thru together and the guy ordering at the speaker asks us if he can have a minute. He sounds nice and smooth and charming. We say, ‘sure,’ and turn our microphones off so we can chat together, but of course, we can still hear him. In the next ninety seconds, he proceeds to have a phone conversation (perfectly civil, like a business kind of call) but every second word is swearing. It was just incredible, perfectly fine little chat, just more swearwords than your average Tarantino rant. Finally, he finishes talking. Dead silence then,’Hi? Hi, I’m ready to order.’ Finally.
I shake it off and go, ‘Hi, yeah that’s fine. Um. Just so you know, we can hear everything you say over the speaker box,’ and then he swears again and apologizes. It was just the most consistent, unbroken swearing stream either of us had ever heard, hence our surprise. He was a great customer.”
Witness To A Crime
“My roommate in college worked the drive-thru at a Starbucks and one morning heard someone getting robbed. ‘Give me your purse now!’ The victim then came inside and got her order free while waiting for the police.
He said the best part was that the police came and he sat in the manager’s office talking with them for a few hours while getting paid.”
The Ghost Of The Drive-Thru
“I used to work at a 24-hour Burger King. One time at the drive-thru in the pitch black, I heard someone ask for a Tendercrisp Sandwich and a little girl in the background crying screaming, ‘I can’t breathe!’ In a raspy voice.
The dude (I think the driver) said something to the girl like, ‘Shhh, the bleeding will stop; just keep quiet.’
When he drove up, there was no one in the backseat. It messed me up for months.”
Someone’s Going To Need A Raise After This
“I worked the drive-thru at Steak n’ Shake, and the speaker system was surprisingly clear and sensitive. One night, a woman pulled up during a conversation on the phone. We were rather busy, and the line was backed up, so she was far enough ahead that the speaker kicked in, but not close enough to talk directly into the speaker. Due to this, I was given the pleasure of hearing her talk about how much her butt hurt from the previous all-nighter activities – in vivid detail.”
An Important Fight
“This was a real conversation from my drive-thru years. I greet a customer with, ‘Steak’n’Shake, how can I help you?’
The woman says, ‘We want two ice cream sandwiches.’
The man she was with says, ‘No! Just one!’
The woman comes back with, ‘No, we want two!’
‘Shut up; they’re too expensive!’ The man argues.
The woman asks, ‘Well how much they cost, anyway?’
I answer, ‘They cost $1 each.’
The woman decides, ‘Okay, we’re getting two.’
The man, however, wasn’t having it. ‘EFFFFING WITCH, we just gettin’ ONE!!!'”
He Was An Innovator
“It was after midnight at McDonald’s drive-thru.
Extremely wasted guy: ‘Can I get mashed potatoes?’
Worker: ‘Sir, we only have French fries…’
Extremely wasted guy: ‘Ok, couldn’t you just mash them for me?'”
We Hear You… But We Really Wish We Didn’t
“Back when I worked at a coffee chain we would get a 2:30 a.m. rush with wasted people after the bars closed. I don’t think a lot of people realize that when you land on the order pad to place your order, we can hear EVERYTHING!
Sometimes you would hear ramblings and the poor DD driver trying to calm his trashed posse down, other times you could hear gross make out sounds.
The worst experience was when this guy pulled up, and his buddy threw up while they were on the order pad. We heard every chunk of vomit, the heaves, the splash on the pavement, every gross detail of that vomit. The sound alone made everyone working gag. We were close to a barf fest.
Dear high people going through the drive-thru, when you get to the pickup window please, for the love of God, do not blow smoke in our faces when we go to hand you our order. You are not doing us a favor, and you don’t look cool.”
Nobody Messes With Beth
“In high school, I was working a late shift at McDonald’s. One of my best friends (we’ll call her Beth) worked with me. She stood about four foot nothing and weighed about 20 pounds. On a good breeze, she could ride a kite to work. She also had the devil inside her.
This jerk we knew (we were 16, he was about 24) hit the drive-thru about 9 p.m. and proceeded to order. Then he changed his order four times then berated her for getting the order wrong, then called her a name and said something about her father.
When the guy pulled up, the store manager and I were on our way to the window, but she was already hanging out the window with his windpipe in her hand. She lost it. He had an abrasion on his throat, a black eye and mild concussion where she snatched his head toward the window.
The cops were called, and because of his antics, no charges were filed.
I found out later our manager paid some kids at the high school to beat the tar out of him. They did. Mercilessly.
Ah, good times.”
You Tell Me!
“I work at Chick-fil-A, and a guy pulls up to the speaker, and I do the usual greeting, ‘Blah blah blah, how may I serve you?’
He answers, ‘You tell me!’
I ask, ‘What would you like to eat?’
‘You tell me!’
‘Okay, a 12-count nugget.’
‘Do you want the meal or just the nuggets?’
‘You tell me!’.
‘Okay, the meal.’
‘What would you like to drink?’
‘You tell me!’
Then he pulls around to the window, and the person working the register tells him the total, and his response is, ‘EFF YEAH!’ Then we ask him if he wanted any sauces. ‘You tell me!’ Then he pays and leaves. The whole encounter made my night.”
“So I worked for seven years at a Taco Johns. Off the top of my head, the daily facepalms were explaining to customers that we didn’t have pizza and we didn’t deliver – that’s Papa Johns. No, we aren’t Taco Bell, and our burrito isn’t seven-layered, we won’t put Volcano sauce on it, I don’t care.
Once a guy ordered $43 of food, one of those people asking for the Volcano sauce, ugh. He was in this loud pickup he didn’t shut off for the order, and when he got to the first window, he laid on the horn to get the attention of the Vietnamese gentleman ahead of him in the Toyota, and to scream at him to buy American cars.
He was screaming at a Mexican restaurant trying to make a Vietnamese man who just wanted a taco, to buy American trucks.
This whole time I was trying to take his money, and he was arguing about the total since he didn’t turn the engine off he misheard it and insisted what he heard is right. No, I will not give you $40 of food for $20.
After almost 20 minutes, I ran his card and showed him the math, double checking every single item, he consented and left, but that order still wakes me up at night five years later.”
Some People Never Learn
“I used to work at a Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. my senior year of high school. We had an annoying number of people who we would have to ask to turn down their car radios because we couldn’t hear their orders over the sound of Eminem blaring.
I don’t remember too many other weird things in the drive-thru, but we did have several drive-thru customers then stomp into the store because they were mad about something. The weirdest one I remember was a guy screaming that he ordered a ‘large value meal,’ and was angry because his burger wasn’t bigger, too.
Another was a young guy who kept screaming about ‘hologram stuff’ on his roast beef sandwich. I think there may have been a slight oil sheen on his meat, which is pretty normal and harmless.
But the person who angered me the most at the drive-thru was the road construction crew that would come through on foot and then get angry that we told them that they would have to come inside to order since standing in the middle of stagnant traffic is a safety issue. Then they would come inside, raise a stink, and do the same thing the next day.”
That Towel Is Hiding Nothing Buddy!
“I used to work at a Dunkin/Baskin combo. This dude came to the speaker and said, ‘I’ll have a single scoop of chocolate on a sugar coooOOOOOOOONE!’ We all looked at each other like what? The guy pulled forward. My coworker took care of him at the window. He came over the headset to the rest of us while the window was closed for a moment telling us to look. So we casually walked past and glanced over. The driver had a towel covering his lap, and a girl was in the passenger’s seat, leaned towards him at about a 30-degree angle and trying to make it look casual.”
“A police chase ended in my Carl’s Jr. drive-thru about 15 years ago. It was a lot of ‘GET OUT OF THE CAR! HANDS UP!’ and other shouting.
Apparently, after he was dragged out, they discovered that he had tossed the keys out of the window, and they spent a half hour waiting around to get a tow truck in there, after the initial half hour of trying to get him to comply and then arresting him. A cop was parked in front of my speaker the whole time.
It was kind of remarkable, and my boss just shrugged and said, ‘Enjoy your break, and make sure to give the cops their discount.'”
Tell Us How You Really Feel
“My sister and I both worked at McDonald’s and would always swap funny stories. One of my favorites she ever told me was about how one night when she was working the night shift, her store was about to close at midnight (because the store was in a pretty bad neighborhood). At around 11:58 p.m., they decided to lock the doors early and only serve the customers in the drive-thru. I guess someone didn’t like that because once there were no more cars in the way they decided to throw a two by four straight through the glass sliding door of my sister’s drive-thru. On the plus side, my sister got to go home early.”
Someone Takes Halloween A Bit Too Seriously
“I used to work at Wendy’s in high school. It was Halloween. Someone drove up, and I said, ‘Hi! Welcome to Wendy’s what can I get for you on this spooky night?’
The guy responded in a raspy voice, ‘Fries.’
‘Small, medium or large?’ I asked.
He answered, ‘I just want fries. Batman needs fries.’
I say, ‘Okay, second window.’ A guy in a batmobile drove up in a full Batman costume it was insane!”