Photo Credit: wordartsme.com
I took a Deep Breath. The metal apparatus stood still in front of me. Brown blotches of rust crusted to its edges as if it were far older than it had any right to be. But, that didn't matter. I was here to order food, not investigate the cleanliness of the outside speaker. I rolled my window down and stared at the speaker.
It is proper etiquette, when dealing with such devices, to wait until a voice from the other side contacts you first. Speaking out of turn may cause unwanted chaos from within the walls of any fast food establishment. So, it is best to exercise patience and listen closely for the sound of crackling and barely audible voices to start ordering. Sometimes, in newer buildings, the speaker is quite clear and the crystalline cadence of a well trained voice can make it's way to your car with no delay or dilemma. This was not one of those buildings.
"Hey, may I take your order?" The voice said, amidst a crackling mist of static.
"Hi! I will take...will take...take...a Sandwich combo...wich combo...combo...please...please...lease.." I said, trailing off into an infinite series of echos to the far beyond. Great, I thought to myself.
"Uh, sure, what side?"
"I want fries...ries...ies...please..lease...ease..."
There was a brief pause, and then he continued.
"What sides? We have rice, beans, fries..."
"No, I said...I said...aid...I want fries...want fries...ries...please...lease...ease..."
"Oh! Rice! Ok anything else?"
"Yes, we got your rice."
"Oh! I got it." He said confidently. "Your rice will be ready soon."
"FRIES!" I said, trying to be aggressively polite. It worked.
"Fries. What do you want to drink?"
"Sweet tea." I said, and took a deep breath. I was almost finished with this fast food fiasco.
"We don't serve Pepsi here sir. We have coke, diet coke, sprite, tea..."
"I want...sweet...tea..." I said in the plainest English I could muster from my slightly annoyed core. Behind me, a conga line of cars full of hungry souls was forming. There wasn't much time left.
"You want tea? Okay. Sweet or unsweetened?" He said in response.
"Sweet." I said, taking a deep breath and gripping the steering wheel.
"Ok. So you want a sandwich combo with fries and sweet tea? Is that correct?"
"Yes, thanks!" I said and started driving away, until I remembered something very important. I let my car ease backwards into the same spot. "Also, I have a Coupon for that sandwich."
A soft silence fell over the speaker as little crackles filled the air between us. Did he leave? I thought to myself as I leaned closer.
"MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER?!" The metallic device screamed at me.
"Look, I have a coupon for the sandwich I just ordered."
"What kind of sandwich?"
"The one I ordered a few seconds ago. I forgot to mention it."
"You want to add a sandwich to your order?"
"No, I want to add the coupon to the sandwich I ordered."
The silence was deafening. The line of cars began to look far more menacing. I should've just added the coupon at the end instead of backing up to the speaker again, but it was too late now. I was going to get my discount.
"Pull up to the window. Thank you."
"What about my coupon?"
"May I take your order?" He said again. Fine, I will bring it to the window.
As I drove up to the window and presented my coupon, I thought about what had just happened. An incident in life that could have ruined my pre-dining experience turned into a story that you are currently reading. Look on the bright side. There's always a story in everything. You just need to know where to look.