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PSA: the drive-thru microphone hears EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME.


The drive-thru at a fast food restaurant is a one-of-a-kind social experience. Just about every step is a weird form of human interaction that occurs literally nowhere else.

And, oh yes, there are robot speakers that look alarmingly like sci fi trash cans.

Those microphone/speaker machines mark the first step in the drive-thru experience. All is garbled on both ends, so the employee and the customer routinely yell at one another--sometimes out of anger, but often purely out of necessity.

But when that insane interaction is finished, there comes a sense of relief for customers. They feel as if they can withdraw back into their private zone in the car. Sure, the window is open, but at least there's only a quick food handoff left.

WRONG. That microphone is still on, my friend. Consider yourself warned.

HawaiianShirtsOR asked, "Fast food employees, how sensitive are the drive-thru microphones? What unexpected stuff have you heard from customers who didn't think you could hear them?"

Drive Thru 101

"I don't think most people realize that if your car is pulled up on the sensor that triggers the microphone, we can hear what you're saying the entire time.

"I have heard conversations about people complaining about a long line, straight up badmouthing my coworkers, etc."

"I advise you to put your window back up after you order lol"

-- nireseor98

Cat Parents

"Once heard someone saying 'stay buckled baby! you'll get a treat treat if you're good okay?' and i thought they were talking to a child."

"They pulled up to the first window and there was a kitten in the front passenger seat trying to climb up the back :)"

-- wetsocksssss

A Good Boss 

"People might not realize that everyone im the fast food place hears you, not just the person youre talking to. At least at my Wendys we all wore headsets."

"This is kind of related to the question, but while i worked there it was pretty common for a customer at the drive through to get impatient and disrespectful with the person taking their order, which was almost always a woman at that position."

"To their surprise though, whenever this would happen, my manager, who was a very large man, would turn on his mic and start laying into the guy about how he cant treat his employees like that."

"The shock you could hear in their voices when they suddenly had to confront a man about the behavior they didnt think anyone else could hear was always rly funny"

-- toaster_rider

Where Everybody Knows Your Name--And Voice 

"As long as your car is over the sensor the person can hear you, just a warning for anyone who wants to chat about any sensitive topics."

"Commonly heard about STDs, secret pregnancy and embarrassing medical issues which was all the worse given I worked in a small town and I often knew these people."

-- Darthrevan4ever

Zero Support for the Lizzards

"Worked at Brown's Chicken, had a lady pull up and ask for 'half pound chicken lizzards'."

"'liver? Or gizzards?' I asked."

"'half pound chicken lizzards!'."

"Then I hear a guy next to her say, 'woman, you know it's a damn reptile.' cracked me up."

-- raulduke05

Captive Performers

"I am in a college town so I've heard it all. Lots of conversations about sex and drugs. Sometimes I will leave them waiting so I can listen to the rest of the conversation." -- sarahboo0321

"So that's why I'm always in line so long, you are listening to my interesting life. LOL." -- cuoyi77372222

High Standards for Nuggets

"Not a fast food worker, but I used to do support for cell phones and occasionally had idiots call me from their cars before going through drive thrus."

"I had one lady who went to McDonald's, ordered a 6 piece McNuggets and an extra large coffee with 12 cream, 6 sugars, and 6 sweeteners (health conscious, obviously)..."

"...and after she was asked to drive around she either muttered or said to someone else in the car (she'd left the phone on the dashboard or something after asking me to 'hold') 'I swear to God if they're out of Sweet & Sour sauce again I'm gonna shove those Mcnuggets so far up the manager's a** he's gonna need a colonoscopy to find them all.'"

"All I could think is maybe she should have ordered that coffee as a decaf."

-- feor1300

Good, But Not That Good

"My friend and I were both working one day. A guy pulls up and she asks if we can take his order, he says give me just a sec.. so we wait."

"And this guy is telling his passenger this long story. No one was behind him in line so we let him go on and on and there are 3 of us just listening to this story being told at the ordering mic."

"Finally my friend speaks up and says 'guys, this is a great story but are you ever going to let us know what we can get for you?' And both guys in the car start laughing and finally say what they want."

"When they came up to the window the guy was still laughing and asked for a picture of us because it was the best comeback he's ever heard. He was a restaurant owner in a nearby valley where the best wines in the world are made."

"He also left a great review about us on Yelp. Nice guy too."

-- reb678

Hit and Run-Thru

"One time, the guy started ordering, then some other bloke walked up to his open window for almost running him over."

"Why was he walking in the drive thru in the first place? Idk it was kinda weird and this dude was ranting at the driver for a while."

"Most of the time I can barely hear the order though"

-- Jp_gamesta

Bullied At the Window 

"So kind of the opposite thing, one time I ordered and I was in a really good mood and I kind of sang/talked 'thank you~ ~' to the drive thru person..."

"...and as I was driving away I could hear them mock me 'ThAnK yOu~ ~' it immediately ruined my day."

-- merlamer

Storytime 


Bro, fast food storytime. I was in line a fast food burger place that's popular in Texas. I was stuck behind some b!tch taking forever to order (windows down, could hear her the whole time) DID NOT know what she wanted. When she was finally done I zipped up to that speaker, and waited.

When they asked for my order I spit that like I had rehearsed it for hours. When I got up to pick my order up, the guy leaned out and said "there's an apple pie and some extra fries. Thanks for knowing what you wanted." Made my day and apparently his.

Krazypsychic

We're waiting


Reminds me of when I worked my first fast food job. One point I started working overnights and one dude pulled up at like 2AM and took 32 minutes to place an order consisting of a single combo meal.

Best part is because he took 32 minutes to place his order, our SOS for the night was ~30 minutes so I got the pleasure of being chewed out by my boss the next day for us being so slow despite the fact we literally did nothing wrong.

Kryso

Satisfaction

Sometimes I wish that other industries could do what I do when faced with someone who can't figure out what they want/need to say.

"Timmy? Did you forget what you were thinking about? It's ok....im going to ask Sally what her idea is, and you can keep thinking. If you remember, raise your hand and I'll call on you, ok?" (Said multiple times throughout the week to the preschoolers I teach).

Can you imagin if you could skip to the next customer in line!?! I think job satisfaction would improve immensely lol.

chefjenga

Comeback slap


My friend and I were both working one day. A guy pulls up and she asks if we can take his order, he says give me just a sec.. so we wait. And this guy is telling his passenger this long story. No one was behind him in line so we let him go on and on and there are 3 of us just listening to this story being told at the ordering mic.

Finally my friend speaks up and says "guys, this is a great story but are you ever going to let us know what we can get for you? And both guys in the car start laughing and finally say what they want.

When they came up to the window the guy was still laughing and asked for a picture of us because it was the best comeback he's ever heard. He was a restaurant owner in a nearby valley where the best wines in the world are made. He also left a great review about us on Yelp. Nice guy too.

reb678

Good management 

​People might not realize that everyone in the fast food place hears you, not just the person you're talking to. At least at my Wendys, we all wore headsets. This is kind of related to the question, but while i worked there it was pretty common for a customer at the drive-through to get impatient and disrespectful with the person taking their order, which was almost always a woman at that position. To their surprise though, whenever this would happen, my manager, who was a very large man, would turn on his mic and start laying into the guy about how he cant treat his employees like that. The shock you could hear in their voices when they suddenly had to confront a man about the behavior they didn't think anyone else could hear was always really funny

toaster_rider

Speak up


One time, the guy started ordering, then some other bloke walked up to his open window for almost running him over. Why was he walking in the drive thru in the first place? Idk it was kinda weird and this dude was ranting at the driver for a while.

Most of the time I can barely hear the order though

Jp_gamesta

Big brother 


Just a heads up...most new Starbucks drive thrus (2017 and newer) also have a camera on them. We can see you picking your nose....

Also, if a siren is going by, please just wait. I can't hear a damn thing.

General_Distance


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