There's something peculiar happening between me and drive-thru windows. No really, something weird happens almost every time I drive through a fast food establishment. Maybe a certain level of oddity is to be expected when you're heeding the call of an 11 p.m. taco or French fry craving.
Firstly, I admit that I struggle to verbally communicate with people when they're not standing in front of me. I also struggle with making quick decisions. So when I drive up to a menu board with a bazillion options and a voice coming at me out of a box, panic is bound to set in. Needless to say, many miscommunications have occurred as I struggle to convey my cravings to the mysterious individual at the other end of the box.
It mostly results in frantic ramblings, e.g. "Uhhh I need another minute" and "What's the name of that one thing I once ordered...? It had sauce... and was shaped like this..." Obviously, when the person taking my order can't see my hand gestures and forlorn facial expressions, it is really difficult to describe a Cheesy Gordita Crunch. (It's not always on the menu anymore, OK?)
I really think video chat could do a lot for my drive-thru experience. Except if the employee had any weird moles or fascinating facial piercings -- then my attention span would be a goner and we'd be back at square one.
But the strangest occurrence of my drive-thru shenanigans has nothing to do with MY communication issues. It has to do with voice changes. I'm not talking pre-pubescent cracking; I mean full-on gender switches from female to male octaves.
Has this ever happened to anyone else but me? I've got at least a half dozen instances on record. I'll be gearing up for a (hopefully) smooth ordering experience, when suddenly the female voice that greeted me becomes a male voice asking what size of Dr. Pepper I would like. And then it returns to a womanly tone as he/she reveals my total and asks me to pull forward to the window.
For someone who already struggles with drive-thru communication, this is a bit much to handle. It's like taking a friend who's already afraid of the woods on a night hike and stranding him without a flashlight. Stick a pin in it, why don't you?
It all became much clearer recently when someone clued me in that some fast food chains have remote ordering systems, i.e. while I'm asking for a chocolate Frosty in Arizona, someone in the backwoods of Wisconsin might be the one heeding my call. So, it turns out that the paranormal voice switches are neither the result of a) my own delusions or b) a cruel conspiracy against my fast food peace of mind -- rather, it's probably just a glitch in the system.
As if I needed more unpredictable, wacky technology in my life.
Follow Katie Hawkes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/k8ehawkes