(Times Burned: 2; Wrong Orders: 3; Customers I Want to Slam Over the Head with a Skillet: 1, Major Catastrophes: 2)
It’s Sunday, and I’m working the afternoon shift from 12-6, something I despise doing but just have to learn to live with, like waiting in line and finding soggy tomatoes in my salads. Ariana, who is even greener than I am (yeah, not possible, right?) is busy manning the drive-thru, though, like me, her eye never strays from the clock. As April heads out the door, Josh hands me her drive-thru headset, which I eagerly slip on. I’m just about ready to explode with excitement after my weeks of training on the headset-less front line.
Of all the times I’ve been through a drive-thru, I’ve never once thought too deeply into how they work. It never occurred to me that while I was ordering, there was a tiny army of human workers listening carefully and assembling my order as I spoke. But that’s exactly how it works.
It doesn’t take me long to figure out how the headset works either. Push the first button and you can listen to the customer and the speaker. Push it again and you can speak with the customer. Push and hold the second button to talk to your drive-thru coworkers. I have no idea what the third button does. Pushing it uncovers no noticeable function. I press it for a little while, then quickly move on.
One major problem is that the headset wire is long and dangling. It’s not too hard for klutzy, uncoordinated me to trip over it as I bend down to pack boxes of Munchkins from time to time. After the third time I’ve tripped and sent the fist-sized machine flying to the ground, I decide it must be made from some sort of elf magic, as it barely leaves a scratch.
Josh ambles over to talk. He’s a nice guy, nearly out of college (Damn, I seem to be meeting an awful lot of those lately.). I glance up at him (he’s very tall) and decide I must have misjudged him when he walked through the door earlier in the morning. He may be gangly and his complexion a little spotty, but from the way he walks and talks, this is clearly his domain.
An order pings in through our headsets, and Josh quickly hurries over to the drive-thru coffee station.
“Hi, welcome to DD. How can I help you?”
“Yeah, I’d like an order of chicken tenders.” We look around at each other, then at the drive-thru camera.
“I’m sorry, we don’t carry chicken tenders.”
“Well, do you guys have anything like chicken nuggets?”
“Uh, no. This is DD. Maybe you want to try McDonald’s.” Josh is struggling to keep the sarcasm out of his voice at this point. The woman drives away without another word, as we shake with laughter and grip the granite countertop to keep from falling over.
“Hey, you got someone up front,” Josh says, and I hurry over to take their order. Before we know it, we’re in the weeds, as car after car lines up at the drive-thru and at the front. I hand the family at the front their change and slam the register shut. Josh yells for me to bring over two donuts for the car at the window, and I’m on it until I feel a tug at my hip, and realize that I’ve locked the register on my headset wire. I pull on it desperately (shit, shit, shit!!) , but I’m stuck as a fly in a spiderweb.
“Joshhhhhh!” I cry out. He surveys the situation with a grave look as he takes a car’s order.
“Do you have the key to the register?”
“No, the manager went home already.” Two more cars drive up, and Josh needs to take them. “Look,” he says. “Take it off. I’ll deal with it later.” I do as he says, but as luck may have it, more customers have appeared at the front. I hope ringing up their orders will help open it, but it stays firmly shut. Josh is back now, and, like our caveman ancestors, resorts to a combination of hitting the cash register and tugging hard on the wire. And then, to our amazement, it’s free. We give an exhausted cheer, and nearly collapse, then and there, on the floor.
I have a newfound respect for my shift-leaders as, everyday, they must think quick on their feet to smooth out my problems. My first instinct when confronted with a crisis is to wring my hands and run around in circles like a headless chicken. Though it doesn’t look too likely, I’m working on it.
Until then, all I have to say is: Thanks, Josh.