Fast-Food Behind the Scenes: Memorable Drive-Thru Experiences Shared by Real Workers
After working at a fast-food establishment for a few years, much time was spent at the drive-thru and I have my fair share of interesting customer stories. The drive-thru just seems to bring out the worst and most awkwardly hilarious antics out of people.
Compiling this list really brought back some interesting and definitely hilarious memories and if you’ve ever worked the drive-thru, I’m sure it’ll do the same for you. Maybe you'll even have a good laugh or two. Here are some of the most memorable drive-thru experiences as shared by current and former fast-food workers.
LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD
A couple had a full-on boxing match at the speaker. I just said "let me know when you're ready to order" as I heard the punches land on each other's faces while they yelled at each other..then the lady yelled I WISH YOU WERE DEAD and the guy laughed manically....then they ordered like they didn't just go Rocky vs Drago
THE THINGS YOU HEAR
Once had a guy ask for "Jail-a-peen-os" on his sandwich, I started laughing, and he got super mad and demanded to talk to my manager. I feel like I should clarify. Jail-a-peen-o man was an old redneck in the middle of Missouri. So it was funny not only because of the pronunciation but because of the Southern/Midwest accent.
WHEN THEY'RE CLOSED THEY CAN STILL HEAR YOU
Sometimes after we’re closed we keep our headsets on so we can talk to each other while closing up. When someone pulls up to the drive-through screen, we have a prerecorded message saying that we are closed. There have been many occasions of people driving up, hearing the message, and yelling profanities at us to the speaker box.
THEY SAY BAD STUFF TOO
"I was working at McDonald's and we had just upgraded our headsets for the drive-thru. We no longer had to hold the button down while talking, now we could push the "mic on" button, take the order, then push the "mic off" button.
There was an adjustment period for those of us who liked to talk bad. I was one of those people. The worst one I can remember was when a lady wouldn't stop changing the order and asking questions that the menu in front of her face could easily answer. She said:
"Oh, wait, on that third McChicken, can I get--" and I said, "[explicit], you have got to be [explicit] kidding me". I had no idea how to recover, so I just took my headset off and went on break. Nobody even said anything when I came back." Quick thinking there.
THEY CAN FEEL YOUR PAIN TOO
I once overheard a customer talking to her friend/therapist? about how alone and suicidal she felt. Our line was backed up and she was still stuck over the sensor and had called them while waiting. There were about 6 of us on the floor.
We all felt abysmal and wanted to comp her order or upgrade but didn't know how to explain that yeah, we just heard you spill your guts out unwittingly to absolute strangers! My girl on window settled for being extra nice & taking her time saying hello, etc. :( She's not a regular.
PAYBACK IS A FIVE-LETTER CURSE WORD
A woman pulled up in the drive-thru talking on her phone. I asked what she would like, she told me she needed a minute while continuing her phone conversation. A minute later I asked if she was ready. She yelled no and then went back to her conversation.
She ended by saying something along the lines of “OMG this witch at the drive-thru won’t stop rushing me.” It was the lunch rush and there was a lot to do inside so I started helping the other team members and ignored her. A long 30 seconds later, she was FINALLY ready to order.
So I got my revenge. I made her wait a full three minutes before actually taking her order. Waste my time and call me names, and I’ll waste yours, lady! P.S. We can hear everything you say the second you pull up.
A GREAT COMEBEACK
This guy came up to the speaker and uttered, “I’m hungry and horny.” To which I replied, “Well, we can help with the first, you are on your own for the second one.” He took it in stride and was still laughing when he got to the window.
A soccer mom one day went through, had about five kids with her. She orders extra biscuits for them. Suffice to say, that guy was fired pretty quickly. It made the evening news too and caused a few ructions in the town.
STRANGE SCENES AT STARBUCKS
I work at a Starbucks drive-thru. One time an older woman and a girl maybe early 20s drove up to the box. The woman started ordering liked normal—then she started screaming. We could hear a commotion and then saw the younger girl slapping the crap out of the woman.
Then the woman started to drive forward while screaming. Then the girl gets out and had crutches and a broken leg just started hobbling away. I still have no idea what that was about and I guess I never ever will.
THE TIME BEFORE ALL-DAY BREAKFAST WERE WILD
I used to work at McDonald’s. We finish serving breakfast at 10:30, guy pulls up at 10:40 and says “I’ll have a sausage and egg McMuffin.” I apologize and say that we’re not serving breakfast anymore. There’s silence for around 10 seconds…then I hear him say something wild.
“Freakin’ piss!” fairly loudly and drives out of the drive-thru at around 30 mph (way too fast). He nearly clipped someone’s side mirror as he came past. What an eventful day! One I surely won't be forgetting anytime soon.
JUST A LITTLE UNNERVING
I worked at a Tim Hortons drive-thru years ago. After ordering her coffee, this lady turns up an audiobook she was listening to…about dismembering people and disposing of body parts. I’ll never know what she did with that information, but it scared me…
CAN'T AVOID THE TAXMAN, MAN
I was standing in Carl’s Jr. waiting for my lunch one day and someone pulled into the drive-thru asking if their $1 chicken sandwiches had a tax. After they were told yes, he goes, “Screw this, I’ll just go to McDonald’s!” Still going to have tax there man…
PSA: THEY CAN HEAR YOU!
When I worked at McDonald’s, a lady pulled up and started saying how she hates coming here because the drive-thru person is always an idiot who never gets her order right and how McDonald’s only hires idiots… What I told her really got her good.
I had the perfect way to stick it to her. I greeted her with “Hello ma’am, sorry for your past experiences but not all of us are idiots, and in fact, we all can hear you on the headsets as soon as you pull up.” She drove off.
PSA: THEY CAN SEE YOU
Most if not all of Starbucks drive-thrus have a camera, so we can see you. We can see when you flip us off. We can see when you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. We can see the faces and hateful glares you make.
And more importantly, we can see when you and your significant other are for some reason trying to get it on in the drive-thru lane. Like y’all can’t wait and pull into the parking lot for that? Or better yet, get a room!
SOME PEOPLE NEED TO BE CALLED OUT
I work at a local burger/ice cream place. During the summer, we’d occasionally get pretty backed up in drive-thru, due to pretty much everything being made to order. So I take this lady’s order, but she has to sit there for a while since the line was so backed up.
About seven or so minutes after she orders, she (very loudly) says, “What the heck could be taking so long?! It’s a fast food place!” She had no idea we could hear her. So, without much thought, I turned my mic back on to apologize for the wait.
I could feel her embarrassment from the window. I didn’t really realize that I called her out like that until my co-worker said something. Either way, that’ll teach her to treat workers better in the future! We’re only human too.
THE FANTASY OF EVERY FAST FOOD WORKER
I was working at McDonald’s while in high school. I’ve since served as a combat medic and can safely say that the drive-thru was still the worst time in life. Anyway, this one woman comes up to the speaker and, before I acknowledge her, is screaming the vilest profanities imaginable.
She was screaming at what I can only assume, is her children in the same car. I greet her and her tone immediately shifts to pleasant. She gets up to the window and does the same thing, screaming profanities and then super pleasant during our interaction. Until, of course, she realizes that we didn’t give her enough straws.
As I was 16 and didn’t really care about the job, I said “Ma’am, I’m 16. I have plenty of time to grow out of working at McDonald’s. This [gesturing towards her] is probably going to last a lifetime.” The manager had to give her some free french fries to calm her down and make her go away.
REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED STEAMING HOT
I used to work the grill at McDonald’s. Once, this guy came through and said, “I want two double cheeseburgers and I want ‘em hot, expletive” I don’t like him swearing at my drive-thru partner, so I make those doubles and throw them in the queuing oven.
A queuing oven is like a billion-watt microwave—you normally put a burger in for like three seconds, and I put these in for 10 seconds, then hot-potatoed them into the bag and gave them to the person at the drive-thru. I listen over the headset and hearing him opening the bag, followed by “OW THAT’S HOT” So satisfying!
At my Little Caesars, we just had one window for ordering, paying, and getting your food, so you always got to hear backseat conversations. Always heard a lot of “Ask him for his Snapchat!” in whispered voices. Ah, the kids of today…
THAT'S SOME QUESTIONABLE PARENTING
There were two homeless people fighting in the parking lot. Some guy rolled up to the speaker with two kids in the back, and I couldn’t believe what I heard him say: “Do you guys want to watch them fight?… Ok, I’ll go through and get the food you guys stay here.”
I was watching on the security camera as this man lets out two kids, around six and eight years old, so they could stand by the dumpster and watch two drunk guys beat the crap out of each other with bricks.
SHE REALLY WANTED THE SALAD
We had run out of salads and I was taking a drive-thru order. The dude said one second please and called his mom. They get into a three-minute argument, where I recall him saying, “I’m not gonna drive all around the city for a freakin’ salad, mom!”
She must really have wanted a salad and while it was slightly my fault for not having her order, who honestly orders a salad at fast food place? We’re not a fresh produce kind of place lady! Go to a farm for that!
YIKES, THAT'S AWKWARD
A girl was in the middle of ordering when her boyfriend called her to break up with her and confess he had been cheating on her (her car put the call through the speakers). Sadly, I couldn’t comp her order and make her feel better that way.
But I did tell the person at the other window to give her a free ice cream of her choosing. I’m surprised she didn’t just pull out of line. I hope the ice cream made her feel a little bit better. She’s better off anyway!
When I was working a drive-thru window I was more worried that the customer would overhear what I was saying about them. One time I called a guy an idiot under my breath (wasn’t holding down the talk button). Then, when he pulled up to the window to pay, my blood ran cold…It was my pastor.
NOT YOUR PERSONAL PHONE BOOTH
I was working drive-thru and I had a customer pull up to the speaker to order. Then afterward, she didn’t pull up to the pickup window. I could still hear what she was saying, even though I’m not taking her order. She then started having a loud phone conversation.
She started talking about how she was cheating on her boyfriend. I gave her a little time and then said, “You can pull up ma’am.” She turned red when she realized I had heard the entire conversation… That'll teach her to keep her phone conversations for at home.
MANAGER'S GOT YOUR BACK
I used to be a drive-thru bank teller and this woman dropped a hundred dollar bill from her withdrawal envelope inside her car. She accused me of stealing. And while I rechecked my drawer, she called me a racial slur and accusing me of coming to the States for the sole purpose to steal from Americans.
All the while thinking the microphone was off. My manager overheard the whole interaction. Well, by the time the woman came into the bank screaming, her younger son came running after her because he found the bill underneath the driver’s seat. My manager closed her bank account and told her to not come back.
IT WOULD BE PRETTY COOL IF THEY DID HAVE TATER TOTS
This guy came to the Wendy’s I worked at and got into an argument with his wife about if we served tater tots or not. After a few minutes, I butted in and told him we didn’t serve tater tots. He told me they were on our screen and he was “gonna get them tots!” He was looking at the chicken nuggets.
NOT ALL MEMORABLE DRIVE-THRU MOMENTS ARE BAD
I was taking an order for a college-aged couple, they ordered a couple of happy meals. After I told them their total, I heard the girl yell excitedly, “WE’RE GETTING TOYS!!” When they pull up, she has the biggest genuine excited grin on her face. It honestly made my day, it was super cute!
WERID FLEX, BUT SUTE WHY NOT?
Someone once rapped their order to me. I never understood why but I did liven up my day, so I guess there’s that. And maybe the guy had no one else who would listen to him so I’m glad I could be that person for him.
HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?
I used to work at a Burger King. While working drive-thru, I heard two women arguing and asking each other where the tacos on the menu were. This went on for about three minutes before one of them said, “Oh this isn’t Jack in the Box,” and promptly left without taking their order. It gave my coworkers and me a good chuckle.
AN ODD REQUEST THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
I wasn’t taking the orders but I used to work at McDonald’s making the food in the back. I had a headset, so I could start working on orders as soon as people would place them. I heard a lot of yelling, a lot of terrible music.
But the one that I recall standing out as someone who ordered their food “To Go.” Like, what’s the alternative? Are you gonna eat it in the drive-thru? Some people really don’t think before they speak and it shows.
WELL THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY
When I was working at McDonald’s, I had an entitled person come through. When I asked her to hold on for a second, she said “I don’t have time for this crap” and told me that I should hurry my slow butt up. So I took a bite of her food. That same day, I quit to save myself from getting fired.
BEING THE BUTT OF THE JOKE
A customer once ordered an “Anus burger” in the drive-thru. I’m guessing he meant “Angus.” The entire staff was in tears laughing at the poor guy. To be fair, how did he make a mistake like that? We’re sure nobody wants a burger with that name…
PERHAPS A TAD OVERZEALOUS
Years ago, I was working at Arby’s. My manager was a police cadet for the local police department. Someone in the drive-thru says, “Man hurry up and pass that stuff.” My boss comes running out of his office yelling “He’s smoking! I have to call it in!” He sprints to his office and jumps on the phone.
He comes running back out a few minutes later and starts talking to the guy on a headset. He’s acting like he can’t hear what the guy is saying, basically buying time. Then he tells the guy to pull up so he can take the order. My boss tells him there will be a wait on the chicken.
About 20 seconds later, two squad cars pull up, block the car in the drive-thru and begin their search, arresting the driver and a passenger for “smoking and minor possession,” or at least that was what I was told.
HERE'S YOUR EXTRA SAUCE!
When I was a teenager working drive-thru at Taco Bell I had these drunk guys cursing up a storm about how they never get extra sauce when they ask for it, and when they say extra sauce, they mean EXTRA SAUCE.
Blah, blah, blah! So when I gave them the order, I shoved an entire box of mild sauce packets out of the window and into their car. I think there was something like 1,200 packets in a box. You would have thought they won the lottery, and the next day my manager was yelling at all of us.
THERE'S NO PREPARATION TO HEAR THAT CONVERSATION
I work at Tim Hortons, and I was on drive-thru one night. I greeted these two customers as I always do and took their orders. Not long after, the couple began discussing the husband’s hemorrhoid treatments. It was awkward for me to say the least.
IT'S A YES FOR ME, DAWG
You hear people listening to music after they’ve ordered but can’t pull up yet. My favorite is this one guy just belting out Kelly Clarkson or something. I’d give it a 0/10 for accuracy, but a 10/10 for enthusiasm. I couldn’t hold it together enough to explain what was happening to my coworkers.
“I HEAR THE DURMS ECHOING TONIGHT..."
Just the other day, there was a guy blasting “Africa” by Toto while he was waiting for us at the speaker box. He had his windows up and everything, but it was clear as day! He must be hard of hearing or really like that song.
NOT HAVING IT YOUR WAY
One time these three guys who were stoned out of their minds came through. It took like a full five minutes to get through the order because they couldn’t stop laughing. Also, the guy was ordering “Whoppers.” Who orders Whoppers at the wrong place!
I told him I don’t work at Burger King! Then at the window, they had to change a bunch of the order and he was still saying “Whoppers.” I told him we don’t serve Whoppers and they all started laughing again. Fools.
“AND THE MILEY CYRUS SONG WAS ON, AND THE MILEY CYRUS SONG WAS ON"
I work at Wendy’s and we had a guy come through who had this super deep masculine voice like the voice of a lumberjack or trucker. He orders and then, because we’re busy, he’s stuck back at the speaker. Then something surprising happened…
I think it was “Party in the U.S.A” that started playing and this guy starts singing along in a super high pitched voice—like little girl high pitched. All of us with headsets (which we muted) started dying of laughter. It had been a busy and crummy day, but that man made it all better.
SO, IS THAT ONE OF THE SECRET HERBS AND SPICES?
A KFC in the town over had someone selling “expletive” through the drive-thru. His customers would ask for “extra biscuits” with their order, and he would put the package in the bag—but then he made a fatal mistake, one he would never live down.
THE LATE NIGHT CREW ALWAYS STICKS TOGETHER
I worked for Taco Bell on weekends. I was working the drive-thru window at 2 AM. Some guys with severe munchies order about $30 worth of food. After I give them the total, one of the guys tells the other that it would be funny to throw his drink into the employee’s face at the window.
What happened next was amazing. I waited until I got the money, gave them their food and change, but not the drinks. When they asked for the drinks, a few guys in our crew went to the window and suggested they didn’t need the drinks.
Saying they would hate if one of them had a drink accidentally thrown in his face. The looks on their faces when they realized the whole crew heard them on the headsets and speakers in the kitchen were priceless. They left without drinks. It’s nice when your coworkers have your back.
NOT A GREAT THING TO OVERHEAR IN ANY SITUATION
I worked at a McDonald’s in a rough part of town back when I was a teenager. We had uniformed cops in the lobby after about 6ish. One night, two guys ordered but couldn’t pull up because the line was a bit long. They didn’t realize that I could still hear them.
And their chilling conversation made my stomach drop. They were debating whether or not to rob me. I walked up front, got one of the officers, explained the situation, and he followed me back to the window. When the guy handed me a credit card, I asked for ID.
Then handed the ID to the officer, who stepped clearly into their view and copied down the license info into a notebook. He had a short chat with the guys through the window and told them to get lost. I handed them back the cards and canceled their order.
THAT'S WAY HARSH AND VERY MEAN
I heard a couple break-up. I asked to take their order, she couldn’t make up her mind, he said to give them a moment, which leads to him just absolutely kicking off about her inability to make any kind of choice in their relationship.
Let alone good choices apparently, and ended with him saying, “We’ll get the food, I’ll take you home and that’s it, I’m freakin’ done.” When they came to the window she was full-on sobbing, like those ugly-gasp-choking cries. The dude just paid and kept on going.
BEING PRIVY TO PEOPLE AT THEIR MOST VALUABLE
Our line was backed up and one girl was stuck over the sensor—what we heard her say broke all of our hearts. She was talking to her friend (or maybe her therapist?) on the phone about how alone and sad she felt.
There were about six of us on the floor, we all felt really down and wanted to comp her order or upgrade, but didn’t know how to explain that yeah, we just heard you spill your guts out unwittingly to absolute strangers! My girl on the window settled for being extra nice and taking her time saying hello.
One time after swiping a credit card and printing a receipt the customer said, “Holy crap, it went? I found it in the parking lot.” That’s a crime kid. At least he was honest about it! I still let him have the meal because, finders keepers, right?
THE CUSTOMER SERVICE VOICE
My customer service voice sounds very happy, but is very much fake, and has lead to a lot of interesting customer experiences. One time, I did my whole introductory crap that you have to do in the Starbucks drive-thru, and the lady mumbled about me being way too loud and happy.
So I just asked her what she said even louder and happier. She didn’t repeat her remark and just ordered that time. I also had multiple incidents where people are like, “Wow, somebody’s had a lot of coffee!” Starbucks drive-thru is one heck of an interesting place.
KEEPING IT CLASSY AT PANDA EXPRESS
I worked at a 24-hour Panda Express. I got the pleasure of taking the order of a group of women coming back from a late-night bridal party. All I could hear besides the quiet designated driver ordering was the girl in the passenger side throwing up into a plastic bag. It was…fun.
THIS ISN'T AN OPEN MIC
One story that always sticks with me just for pure nonsensical reasons was this one guy who came in bright and early and asked for a coffee. I asked back if he wanted cream and sugar. He loudly responds, “HAHA NO! But can you put a SNAIL in it!”
I was dumbfounded and we both sat in silence for a solid thirty seconds. Finally, he cleared his throat and just said, “Haha, no could you imagine? Black is fine.” It was easily one of the most awkward moments of my life.
These stories are proof that life behind the scenes at a fast-food window is anything but drab and boring! These clerks have some of the funniest stories we’ve ever heard… Have you ever done something funny or harsh at a drive-through and what do you think about these incidents?
Leave your comment in the comment section below and let us in on some of your embarrassing or scary experiences. Stay tuned for more articles like this one, where we share some of the best real-life stories on our site!