Sunday, June 16, 2013

Everything I know about character, I learned from the drive-thru window

"Thank you for choosing to eat here, this is Katherine, how may I serve you today?"  "Thank you for choosing to eat here, this is Katherine, how may I serve you today?"  "Thank you for..."  Over and over and over.  I was taking orders for drive-thru, and the cars just kept coming.
You learn a lot about people when you do drive-thru.  You learn a lot about people doing any fast food position, but especially drive-thru.
People sometimes seem to think that fast food workers aren't worthy of being polite to.  And the person taking orders for drive-thru, it seems, is the lowest of the low.  I sometimes wonder if they think we're just voices, that they don't have to worry about really interacting with us.
You can tell a lot about someone's character just from how they treat you when you're serving them.  There is the occasional person who is downright rude, and there are some people who sound and act very grumpy.  But most aren't that bad.  Most just don't seem to care.  They will place their order  and answer all your questions, but they don't interact beyond that, and they usually don't say please or thank you.
Often, this is how the end of an order happens:
"What cheese would you like?"
"Pepper Jack."
"And what to drink?"
"Dr. Pepper?"
"Anything else?"
I read the order back, a little uncertainly.  Are they done or not?
"Your total will be (insert amount)."
At this point, I get one of two responses.  One is that they just drive away.  The other is "Wait, I wasn't done yet."  Well then, why didn't you say so before?!?
About 10% of the time, they don't even wait for me to read the order back to them, they just order and leave.  Or they wait for me to read it back and make sure it's right, then drive off before I can give a total.  Over half and perhaps closer to two thirds of all customers don't bother to say thank you.

Then there are the people who just sit there without saying anything when they first pull up.   You greet them, and they don't respond.  You have to just sit there wondering if they heard you, or if they're ignoring you, or what.  Again, somewhere between half to two thirds of people do this.  When things are busy, you are glad for the break, but it's still very frustrating.

And then there are the people who mumble so you can barely hear them.  I have several times turned up the headset so loud that the background noise, hardly noticeable usually, hurts my ear because it's so loud, and they still aren't loud enough for me to hear them.

One last class of annoying people: the ones with pickups.  Pickup truck motors are loud, so most drivers turn them off so we can hear each other.  The problem arises when they finish ordering, and turn their engine back on.  A very concentrated burst of sound blasts your ear, scaring you half to death, along with attacking your eardrum.

Those are the main groups of inconsiderate people.  The people with accents are also annoying, because it's hard to understand them, but they can't really help that.  Then there are the others.  The ones that say please and thank you, the ones that say, "Just a minute," when they have to take the time to look at the menu, the ones that speak up clearly.

After that come the few people who say, "Hi, Katherine!" before they start, acknowledging that I'm more than just a voice, more that just a fast food worker.  Occasionally, they'll even ask me how I'm doing.

And then there was the one person a few weeks ago.  "Thank you for choosing to eat here, this is Katherine, how may I serve you today?"
"Hi, Katherine, thank you for taking my order!"
I was blown away.  When she came to the window, I made a point to thank her.  She said something to the effect of, "Why wouldn't I?"  I have no idea who she was, I haven't seen her since.  But it's the people like her, who make you feel special when most people pass you by, who keep what remains of my faith in humanity alive.

~Dancing for Him Who died for me.~

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