1. Say something.
You may not be the most confident human in the universe, or you may even have the slightest case of social anxiety, but you have to say something.
And you have to say it loud and clear.
2. You don’t have to be on all the time.
When a human at the speaker asks for more time, always turn your mic off. While they’re contemplating life decisions, you’ll continue with your own life, and there’s no telling what will come out of your mouth when you burn yourself on espresso and forget, for a hot second, that your mic is on.
3. Be human. It’s endearing.
“Grande pumpkin spice latte and…there’s a spider hanging down from the window frame and…and TAKE THE DRINK TAKETHEDRINKTAKETHEDRINK.”
4. Apologies are perfectly acceptable.
Words are hard. Spiders are scary. Sometimes you leave the mic on.
5. Everyone has baggage. Character is how you carry it.
After awhile, you begin to recognize customers through the speaker. If not by their voice, then certainly by their orders and mannerisms. And this is the impatient man who barks into the speaker before you get a chance to turn your mic on.
“How are you today?” you ask as he hands you money at the window.
“Awful,” he says. “I worked all day.”
When you started this job, you must’ve been very bored because you somehow read the entire training manual—but the only thing you really remember is the mandate to leave your baggage at the door as soon as you walk in for each shift. The humans in the drive-thru don’t have this luxury. In the comfort of their car, they carry their baggage piled on top, tucked in the backseat, or packed in the trunk.
“Where do you work?” you ask.
“Hell,” he says.
He doesn’t seem like he’s in the mood for joking, so you ask him if there’s at least something he likes about his job.
When he voices his thoughts, they come out very explicit.
Give him a sleeve with his drink without asking if he wants one, and tell him you hope life gets better.
6. Choose the better narrative.
You may not be the most confident human in the universe, but you’re confident in one thing—and that makes all the difference.
7. You have sixty to ninety seconds to leave an impression on someone.
Sometimes, humans treat seconds apathetically.
But in a drive-thru, which is designed and operated for efficiency and convenience, every second counts.
The smallest actions and words—whether they be positive or negative—have mass impact on landing.
What are you going to do with such a time as this?
8. Be kind, always.
The woman in the white sedan will go home, call her best friend, and say: “I started crying in the drive-thru today, and they gave me extra napkins.”
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.