Drive-Thru Justice: An Anecdote

During my time in the food service industry, I’ve seen a wide array of interesting and amusing characters and adornments: the varying states of undress and sobriety, the unique assortment of pets in the drive-through (I’ve seen many different breeds of dogs, a cat wearing the cone of shame, and a bag of live goldfish), and the fluctuating emotional temperaments. 

As someone who’s generally interested in people, the emotions are the most fascinating to me.  Also, since I am a storyteller, my imagination often runs wild with the more peculiar cases.  But there was one situation where I couldn’t have made up a better story.

I was working the drive-through window that shift.  It was about midday, towards the end of a weekend lunch rush.  A lady pulled up to the window in her minivan, looking slightly flustered.  She had to wait a moment because her food wasn’t quite ready.  So, while we waited, I made conversation, asking how her day was going.  She replied that she was trying to have a good day, but the lady behind her in the line had yelled out her window at her for taking too long to order.

She yelled at her for taking too long to order.

I understand being a little touchy when you’re hungry and people are dealing with your food and your money, but this was an unheard level of grouchy.  The first lady actually didn’t take long at all, especially for a multi-person, child-including order.

I listened as the lady at the window processed the situation.  Perhaps she was just having a bad day, she reasoned, calming herself down from the incident.  Then she reached an unexpected conclusion.

“Maybe I should buy her food.” 

She asked what the other lady’s total was.  It was a small order, so she paid for it.  In a moment of unspeakably satisfying poetic justice, I swiped her credit card for the angry lady’s order.  The first lady received her food and drove off, seemingly recovered.

When the grouchy lady reached her window, her mood had not improved.  When I informed her that the lady in front of her had paid for her food, she sourly began to express her feelings that there should be a limit on drive-through orders, reminding me that this wasn’t a grocery store.  But the real kicker was her initial come-back: “Well isn’t she just a good Christian in heaven.”

I still don’t know what that means.

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