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Exclusive: Drive Thru Translation Guide

Quick Drive-Through

Image via Wikipedia

When I am not spouting off my infinite knowledge here on my blog, I am often working in the real world just like you.  For most of my career I have worked in one capacity or another in the food service industry.  Primarily I have worked for restaurants.  Specifically, I have worked mostly in the quick service industry.  I have held positions up and down the ladder.  I have been a general manager, at the helm of my site to one of the crew slogging it out with the best of them, and everything in between.  In almost fifteen years of service to the industry, I can say I have pretty much seen and heard it all.

I thought I would offer a small public service here and give you, the customer, some insight on the real meanings behind some of the things you are told in the drive thru lane.

  • “Take your time, order when you’re ready”: Typically, this is a common greeting you get when you say something like “I need a minute” or the greatly feared cone of silence (Really you should say something after all).  Bear in mind you have pulled up to a fast food restaurant.  The term here is fast, we are working on a clock, and speed of service is our thing so what this term really means could be…
  1. “Good God, hurry the heck up!!!!!”
  2. “Please, waste more of my time…”
  3. ***Jeopardy Theme***
  4. “You know you are going to anyway…”
  5. “Does anyone just know what they want anymore?”
  • “Can I get you anything else today?”: There are several variants to this, but the aim is the same.  When the statement is offered, the employee is trying to figure out if you are actually done with your order.  Part of fast food is a bit of a catch 22 really.  We want to be really fast, but at the same time we want to be really accurate.  Many times the customer just isn’t very clear that they are finished, and that can create some distress on the employee’s end…
  1. “Please say no, please say no…”
  2. (for bigger orders) “As if you need anything else…”
  3. “Wow…must be feeding a small army!!”
  4. (if customer says yes or hold on, after taking forever to order) “Insert colorful expletive here
  5. (bigger order again) “MoOoo…”
  6. (customer says no particularly after a long pause in order) “Gee thanks for letting me know you’re finished…”
  • “No Problem”: Ah yes, this phrase is often uttered when the customer makes some request or change to their order that is out of the ordinary.  It is hard coded into the staff to be polite and to handle every issue quickly and efficiently.  However, that doesn’t mean that the request does not put some added stress on the employees trying to give you your food accurately and quickly…
  1. “(Problem!!)”
  2. “Whatever gets you on your way quicker…”
  3. “You didn’t say this earlier because of what reason?”
  4. “Picky, picky…”
  5. “AND THENNN…?” (siting a mildly famous movie of some kind)
  • “Have a Nice Day”: Now with a number of these terms that we have explored, the employee is genuinely sincere in what is being said.  However, just like anyone else there are times when they are just going through the motions in trying to hurry the “problem” through the process and get them on their way.  This last statement is typically the last phrase said in parting with the customer, and it too can have a multitude of hidden meanings including…
  1. “Thank goodness that person (or expletive) is gone!!!”
  2. “Get the heck outta my drive thru already!!!”
  3. “I’ve wanted to say that since they got here!!!”
  4. “Enjoy your heart-attack on a bun”
  5. “omg omg omg omg LEAVE!!!”
  6. “GEEZ!!! We need an eject button here”
  7. “That means leave!!!”
  8. “I don’t really care if your day is good.  You have ruined mine so you need to leave”
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About Mike Lemons
I'm a guy in his 40's who has been bumming around the net for years. I am married to a wonderful woman, and have 3 gorgeous kids.

3 Responses to Exclusive: Drive Thru Translation Guide

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. Pingback: Exclusive: Drive Thru Translation Guide « Mike's Take…

  3. Usually I do not article on blogs, but I want to say that this post incredibly forced me to complete so! Thanks, quite nice article.

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