10 Reasons Why

10 Surreal Conversations at a Typical Drive-Thru Restaurant

Navigational Tip: “PTO” stands for “Person Taking Order”, a non-denominational bit of vagueness that will allow you to visualize said order-taker in a manner that best adheres to your own experiences. And here we go…



PTO: “Welcomecrackintheboxyourorder?”

Me: “Okay, I believe you just attempted to greet me and ask for my order, although that might have been some type of seizure or a mating call. Can you hang on a minute?”

PTO: “….”

Me: “Hello?”

PTO: “Are you ready?”

Me: “No, I just wanted to make sure you heard me say just a minute.”

PTO: “…”

Me: “Did you hear me?”

PTO: “Are you ready?”

Me: “Do I just not exist to you until I answer ‘yes’ to that question?”



PTO: “Sir, please stop honking your horn.”

Me: “I’m NOT honking my horn. It’s the people behind me.”

PTO: “Why are they honking?”

Me: “I’m assuming they’re hungry. We’ve been in line for twenty minutes and we haven’t moved an inch.”

PTO: “Could you tell them to stop honking?”

Me: “I don’t know them. I’m not telling them anything.”

PTO: “You’re closer than me.”

Me: “Look, can I talk to your manager?”

PTO: “He’s not here, he had to run get some change from the bank and… Hey, is the honking coming from an ugly green Prius and the driver is a butthead?”

Me: “What? Um… well… yes, it appears to be a Prius… not sure about the ugly part… and the driver could be a butthead or it could be Mother Teresa, I have no idea…”

PTO: “That’s my manager. He’s trying to bring me change and you’re in the way. Could you go get the money bag and bring it to me?”

Me: “Why in the world is he using the drive-thru? That doesn’t make any sense.”

PTO: “That’s why he’s a butthead. Can you just go get the bag and stop talking? I’m out of ones.”

Me: “No I cannot go get the bag. What is wrong with you?”

PTO: “Nothing’s wrong with me. You’re the one who’s anti-social and resistant to authority.”

Me: “How do you even know those words? From your police reports?”

PTO: “Those documents are sealed until I’m 18 and that’s none of your business. Are you getting the change or not? I’ve got a lady here who ordered Captain Bucky’s Shrimp Bucket and I don’t have the right change. I already tried to give her a stapler and she didn’t go for that. She’s kinda mad.”

Me: “I’m not getting your change! In fact, I’m not getting anything. I’m putting my car in reverse and I’m getting the hell out of here, and I don’t care if I hit Mother Teresa in the Prius!”

Me: “So you won’t be using any coupons today?”



PTO: “Could you please repeat that?”

Me: “I haven’t said anything yet. Do you understand that the people in front of me aren’t here anymore?”

PTO: “Oh. Well, do you know if they wanted the Diablo Sauce or the Chipotle Cream on their Flaming Flautas?

Me: “Uh…no I don’t. They didn’t discuss it with me. Since I wasn’t in their car or anything.”

PTO: “You didn’t hear them when the ordered? What did they say?”

Me: “I wasn’t recording it to share with my grandchildren when they visit me in the nursing home. It’s your job to listen, not mine.”

PTO: “That sounds racist. I’m calling my lawyer.”

Me: “How is that racist? I don’t even know what race you might be, even if I wanted to have an issue with it, which I don’t.”

PTO: “So now you’re denying me my heritage?”

Me: “I’m not… I just want to order a chicken sandwich. I am not burning a cross or wearing a hood. I’m just hungry.”

PTO: “Chicken sandwich, huh? So you want the white meat. Which means you have a problem with the dark meat. I knew it.” Sounds of PTO partially covering her microphone as she turns to holler into the kitchen. “Order up! KKK chicken sandwich with a side of fries. Don’t bother to cook the fries so they can stay white.” Sounds of PTO uncovering microphone. “There. I’ll go sit in the back of the bus until your order is done.”



PTO: “Please pull up to the second window.”

Me: “Um, there’s only one window.”

PTO: “Oh. That was my last job. Can you just drive until I see you?”

Me: “But I’m already at the window. I’m looking at you right now.”

PTO: “Oh.” Turns to look out window instead of gazing at the tile wall in front of her and practicing dance moves. “Is it you that I’ve been talking to? Then how are you talking at the menu board?”

Me: “I’m not. There was a sign on the menu board saying it was broken and that I should just pull through.”

PTO: “Then how come I can hear you in my headset?”

Me: “That’s between you and Jesus. I just want a Grapette and some tater tots.”



PTO: “You want any ketchup with that?”

Me: “I ordered fries. Why would I not want ketchup?”

PTO: “Some people don’t.”

Me: “Some people do. Like me.”

PTO: “Look, I’m supposed to ask instead of just give. I don’t make the rules. Ketchup costs money, you know.”

Me: “Then add it to the cost of the fries and give everybody the damn ketchup.”

PTO: “Fine. Is one packet enough?”

Me: “I’d like three. There’s only like two drops in one of those things.”

PTO: “That’s a lot of ketchup. Do you know how much sugar that is?”

Me: “Are we really having this conversation?”

PTO: “I think we’re both talking, so, yes, we are.”

Me: “Just give me the ketchup.”

PTO: “You seem to have a lot of anger in you. Violence is never the answer. Here, let me just tuck this brochure for the Buddhist Temple into your bag, so you can read it while you’re eating all that ketchup that you don’t really need.”



Me: “I’d like the Atomic Burrito and a large order of Jalapeno Bang-Bangs.”

PTO: “We don’t have chicken.”

Me: “Both of those things have ground beef. What’s with the chicken?”

PTO: “We don’t have it.”

Me: “But I’m not ordering anything with chicken.”

PTO: “We don’t have chicken.”



PTO: “Would you like to super-size that?”

Me: “No, thanks.”

PTO: “Would you like to super-size that?”

Me: “NO! Regular size is fine.”

PTO: “Would you like to super-size that?”

Me: “Are you some kind of upgrade terrorist? I don’t want the big one, I want the little one.”

PTO: “Bigger is better.”

Me: “No, it’s not. Not if I don’t want it. God.”

PTO: “God wants you to have bigger things.”

Me: “Just shoot me in the head.”

PTO: “Would you like the super bullet with that?”



PTO: “Can I take your order?”

Me: “Uh, I was already ordering. Did you not hear me?”

PTO: “That was Yolanda. She’s on break now.”

Me: “So Yolanda can leave in the middle of an order?”

PTO: “We have a union. There are rules. I don’t know why you’re here if you don’t support that.”

Me: “Are you serious?”

PTO: “No, she works the midnight shift. I’m Melvin. Can I take your order?”



Me: “Does the Hawaiian Chicken Surprise sandwich have tomatoes?”

PTO: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Is there somebody you can check with? I don’t want tomatoes.”

PTO: “I don’t know people in Hawaii.”

Me: “Okay, does the person who is making the sandwiches know?”

PTO: “I’m not allowed to go back there.”

Me: “Is there a manager I can talk to?”

PTO: “He’s not Hawaiian.”

Me: “Why are you making this so hard?”

PTO: “You’re the one asking all the questions.”



PTO: “Could you please pull through and park in front of the building?”

Me: “Why? What’s taking so long?”

PTO: “Your order.”

Me: “I get that. What, of the things I ordered, is causing the problem?”

PTO: “Everything.”

Me: “Even the water?”

PTO: “Yes. Especially the water.”

Me: “How can there be a problem with a cup of water?”

PTO: “Um, no one ever orders that, so we’re not sure what to do.”

Me: “You don’t know how to put water in a cup? Are you serious?”

PTO: “I’m very serious about food. That’s why I work here. Why are you questioning my values?”

Me: “I’m not questioning… Look, if we skip the water, can things happen faster?”

PTO: “You’ve already paid. I’m not authorized to do refunds.”

Me: “The water didn’t cost anything.”

PTO: “But it’s on the receipt. See? Item 4. Water.”

Me: “Let’s just pretend that you’ve already given me the water and I already drank it, okay? Now, can I just get the rest of the food?”

PTO: “Um, okay.”

Me: “No more problems?”

PTO: “No. Wait. Yes. Hang on.”

Me: “What now?”

PTO: “They’re calling me on my headset. One sec. Okay. Okay. Sir, your chicken sandwich?”

YOU: “Oh, God.”

PTO: “Tina’s calling from the kitchen. She says she’s holding the tomato right now like you ordered. But she doesn’t know what you want her to do with it after that and she wants to know when she can put it down. It’s almost her break time.”


Previously published in “The Sound and the Fury” and “Bonnywood Manor”. Tiny changes made for this post.

Story behind the photo: Close-up of the side of my house, representing what I was running into simply trying to place an order as well as giving you a more detailed image of my domicile than you can get by screwing around with Google Earth…


34 replies »

  1. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I had to look up Flaming Flautas and was surprised to see how many food bloggers have featured this dish. I need to get out more. [insert facepalm]

    I love this line: “I don’t know why you’re here if you don’t support that.” Recently I was in another city and wandered into a vegan coffee shop – which I didn’t realize – and was offered a zillion milk choices, except for dairy. When I said, in all innocence, “Do you have regular milk?”, they gave me that condescending I Don’t Know Why You’re Here look. Again, I need to get out more often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I just made up the Flaming Flautas bit on a whim. I had no idea that such things actually existed. And as for the “don’t support that” angle, I’m guilty as well of wandering into retail establishments and suddenly realizing that did not meet the qualifications of the desired clientele. The first time I ordered at Starbucks, with their fancy “cup sizes” that don’t make any sense? Yeah, they thought I was an idiot.

      Bottom line, “getting out more often” may not be all that much of a lofty goal. I prefer to remain in my Fortress of Solitude, drinking non-Starbucks coffee, scribbling out epic bits of madness, and spicing things up a bit with a good Myrna Loy black-and-white… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This actually happened to me at a Taco Bell.

    Me: There is no lettuce in my taco.
    Clerk: We are out of lettuce.
    Me: Seriously?
    Clerk: We are out of lettuce.
    Me: [Pointing out the window] There is a grocery store. They have lettuce.
    Clerk: We can only buy lettuce from Taco Bell.
    Me: Why didn’t you tell me you were out of lettuce when I ordered my tacos?
    Clerk: Then you wouldn’t buy them, would you?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Good piece!

    A side note: in 1964 or so, a hambuger chain called Wetson’s opened on Long Island and other areas. It was like McDonald’s. I lived on Long Island back then. The Wetson burgers weren’t good. But they were cheap — 19 cents. Teenagers with very little money, such as me, could afford Wetson’s.

    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And this reminds me of my own experiences a few years later, when most everything on the menu at Taco Bueno was 29 cents. (The really fancy burritos cost a bit more, of course.) Our whole family could could have a feast for about five bucks. They proffered a strawberry soda that had me mesmerized with its sugary goodness…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Too funny. Then AND now. Did you order this extra ketchup? Here they don’t even give you the option of no ketchup, they just don’t give it to you unless you ask them directly. The local Mickey Dee’s morning manager is a witch with a b, and hates me because I said “damn” in the drive up line while she was taking orders once. She actually asked me not to ‘swear’ in her drive up lane. I said why the f*ck not? I really need to go to another fast food chain for my morning grease and go…but the only option is Burger King and I don’t know what this local one uses for eggs, except it AIN’T real eggs. Their food is the shittiest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just fail to understand why so many of these fast-food emporiums think it’s okay to shaft the customers. I can grasp the concept of not tossing about condiments if the customer is not going to use them, but this whole down-low thing of not even proffering them unless you sign a formal request is inane. And if someone questioned my language? Oh, hell no. That conversation is not going to end well You and I both remember when the customer was king or queen and we were treated with appreciation. The loss of that respect is yet another sign of the jack-assedry of modern society…


  5. Drive-Thru’s are a still pretty rare here in the UK I think. I know I would have to drive a long time to be able to Drive-Thru one anyway but that’s not unusual as where I live, you can drive for half an hour in most directions before even hitting a town. Given the experiences you describe here, it probably isn’t worth it. Even for a Flaming Flautas, whatever they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair, there was a time when the drive-thru experience, at least in America, used to be a rather rewarding and satisfying aspect of life. One could snatch up some tasty grub in an expedient manner, with the whole situation glowing with an aura of man helping man in pursuit of happiness. But as is the case with many things these days, competent customer service has been eviscerated by mega-national corporations who have since elevated profit over pleasantry.

      But I’m not bitter. I just write blog posts that say otherwise… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely hysterical! Thanks so much for kicking of my Sunday with a good laugh Brian :O)
    I don’t know what it’s like in the States but, in the UK, the most frustrating conversations are with banks:
    “I need to run through security with you, can you please give me your date of birth?”
    “But you called me – what’s this about?”
    “I’m sorry but we can’t disclose that until we’ve run though security”
    “But I don’t know who you are, you could be anyone”
    “I’m calling from XXX Bank”
    “But I only have your word for that”

    “Can you please answer the security question”
    “No I don’t know who you are”
    “But we have important information for you; it’s imperative that I tell you”
    “Then tell me”
    “Please answer the security question”
    “No, just tell me what you want”
    This wen’t on for about 15 minutes – I never did find out what they wanted but it can’t have been that important……. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Great dialogue. Yep, it seems most institutions have lost their minds when it comes to customer service. On a related note, and I’m not sure how much of an issue this might be in the UK, we get unsolicited telemarketing calls ALL DAY LONG. We supposedly have a national “Do Not Call” registry, and we’re on it with all our numbers, but it apparently doesn’t mean a thing as it’s not enforced. And these telemarketers get downright rude if you don’t want to cooperate, refusing to shut up and hang up. No wonder there’s a cultural divide in this country… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we had that in the UK and it’s realky annoying! I just used to put the phone down on the table and make a cup of tea. It takes some of them a while to realize you’re not there but they hang up eventually. Added to that it ties up their phone lines for a while 😉 x

        Liked by 1 person

    • I completely understand the performance anxiety. I don’t want to be THAT PERSON who is not fully prepared, causing the line to back up and the world to stop turning. When I’m just ordering for myself, it’s not so bad. But if I’m also ordering for partner, I’m in a world of hurt. He is very specific with what enters his mouth, so to speak, and he is rarely satisfied with menu items prepared as described on said menu. There are always decrees of adjustment, detailed changes that throw the order-taker and the food-prep people for a loop. It usually takes me at least twenty minutes to place the order before there is some minimal grasp of what I actually need to happen…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hahaha. 😀

    Flaming Flautas? I thought you were talking about certain digestive issues … 😉

    I had this happen in a restaurant a few years ago:

    Me – What’s the special?
    Him – it’s … it’s … it’s (server wanders off, comes back five minutes later; in the meantime, I’m wondering if I should just leave).
    Him – (after wandering back) it’s a dip. Maybe. A beef dip. I think.
    Me – are you sure?
    Him – let me check.(wanders off)
    Him – (wanders back) It’s a chicken … chicken sandwich.
    Me – ummm. I have to leave . I forgot I have a meeting.
    Him – if you forgot your meeting what are you doing here?

    I ran. I wasn’t sure if this guy had narcolepsy or if there was a dead body in the kitchen. Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve voting for the dead body. There’s ALWAYS a dead body somewhere. People would be more aware of this if we just communicated more effectively as humans. But you were wise to run. Because dead bodies often lead to uncomfortable questions from authorities…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Superbly funny. Although I do live near a well-known burger chain with a drive-thru, I don’t recall ever having done the drive-thru thing. I think I’d find it really stressful! I know I wouldn’t be able to understand anyone if you had to order via a speaker. I went somewhere recently that had a hall of fast-food outlets. After doing a full circle and settling on one that served decent looking food for a fair sum of money, we nearly had a complete meltdown trying to choose. They had electronic menu boards that changed page every few seconds. There were 3 next to each other, showing in total 3 different pages. But you didn’t have time to read all the options before it changed. And by the time you’d found which board was now showing the page you were looking at where you’d got to, it changed again. Torture!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, that is FAR too much modern technology for me. Just hand me an old-fashioned menu printed on a piece of paper and nobody will get hurt…

      I do find it surprising, though, that you have never used the local drive-thru. I understand the pressure, trust, but there are times when I simply cannot deal with walking into a physical store and dealing with humanity, preferring to remain in the solitude of my car. Yes, I still have to interact with fools via the “squawk box”, but at least I can’t see them, and this calms my nerves to a degree. Sometimes the accompanying visuals of a live exchange are too much. But I’m not bitter… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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