Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

The editors of Writer's Digest provide a weekly Writing Prompt to get your writing going.
Posts: 927
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:07 am

Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Brian » Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:36 am

Posts: 927
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:07 am

Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Brian » Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:36 am

You roll through your favorite fast-food drive-thru, order your usual and wait for the cashier to repeat it back to you. Only, he doesn't repeat it. Instead, through the speaker, you hear a very unsettling conversation.

You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here.

Posts: 927
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:07 am

Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Brian » Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:36 am

You roll through your favorite fast-food drive-thru, order your usual and wait for the cashier to repeat it back to you. Only, he doesn't repeat it. Instead, through the speaker, you hear a very unsettling conversation.

You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here.

Private E-1
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:12 pm

Re: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Violetwriter » Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:17 pm

I pulled up to the McDonalds’ drive-thru and ordered my usual double cheeseburger, large fries and a large vanilla shake. Instead of the cashier repeating my order, I could hear two men arguing.

“Damn it, Justin, I need the money now.”

“Carl, I told you it’s too damn soon.”

“I don’t wanna wait.”

“Too ****ing bad.”

“Why the hell do you get to decide when we can use it?”

“Because robbin’ that bank was my idea.”

“Yeah, well, I’m the one that got us the ski masks and the guns.”

“So what you couldn’t have…”

Beep. A car had pulled up behind me and honked their horn. The two men inside must have heard the sound because their conversation ended. A few seconds later one of them, Carl, I think, offered to take my order. With my heart pounding in my chest, I repeated my order and pulled around to the drive-thru window. My hand was trembling so hard I almost dropped the money when I went to hand it to him.

“A dollar twenty’s your change.”

“Uhm, thanks.” I squeaked avoiding making eye contact.

“Would ya like some ketchup?”

“Yes, please.”

He put a ketchup pack into the bag and handed me my order. I mumbled a thank you and pulled out of the lot as fast as I could. There was a police department a few blocks away. The whole drive there I kept looking in my rearview mirror convinced that I was being followed.
Once inside the police station, I felt my heartbeat begin to return to normal. I walked over to the reception area and explained to the officer behind the Plexiglas what I had overheard. At first he seemed convinced that I was a fruitcake, but finally something must have made him realize I was telling the truth. He told me to have a seat.

A few minutes later a man well over six feet tall in a suit and tie called my name. He introduced himself to me then ushered me back to his cubicle where he offered me a seat across from his desk. I spent the next twenty minutes explaining to Detective Williams everything that happened. He handed me a clipboard and had me sign a statement. When I was finally done he warned me not to discuss any of this with anyone. I left the police station and drove back to my office. The next few hours flew by and the work day was over.

At home I turned on the television and watched the evening news while I ate my leftover meatloaf. Somehow the local news station had found out and was doing a live remote from the McDonalds. They referred to me as an unidentified witness. That was just fine with me, because I certainly didn’t want anyone to know who I was, especially Carl and Justin.

A few months later Carl and Justin both pleaded guilty and I got a ten thousand dollar rewards from the bank.

Leah Valdez
Private E-1
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:54 pm

Re: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Leah Valdez » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:49 pm

Man, am I starving! The only place around that will appease my tummy fast enough is MacDonald's, which is by no means my first choice but will have to do. I drive through and place my usual order--when I have to eat here: fish sandwich, fries and a diet coke. I wait for the cashier to repeat it back to me and give me the price, but I hear nothing for a short while.

"You can't murder her baby tonight, Brad, even though we planned it. I haven't been able to get the sleeping pills I need to make Ellie pass out so you can do it."

"No prob, Matt; I know where I can get some."

"That would be cool, dude. Then we can get this foul task over with."

My mouth jolts open, and I drop the bills I am holding. I keep listening. "I wish I didn't have to do this. I hate doing babies, but I need to eat," says Brad.

"Yeah, I know what you mean, but Ellie is psychotically obsessed with that piece of flesh. Before Meggie came, Ellie and I were the perfect couple. We loved doing lots of things together, like--you probably won't believe this--concerts, plays, lectures--you wouldn't think I'd like that sort of thing, would you--hiking, fishing, debating politics and philosophy, and so on. Now we don't do anything because it's always, 'Meggie this' or 'Meggie that.' There's never time for us, anymore. And the weird thing is, I don't even think Ellie likes the responsibility. Like I said, she's obsessed!"

"You know I sympathize with you, dude, but I really don't need to hear your reasons. Better if I don't. You know I like both of you. Truth be told, I even like Meggie. This is going to be a hard one for me."

I am so shocked I've lost my appetite. I've got to get out of here and call the police. I go to back up, but there's four cars behind me. No way. I decide to repeat my order and see if they get it this time. I do and hear back, "That's one fish sandwich, an order of fries and, was it a small diet coke?"

"Yes, that's right."

"That will be $6.02 at the window. Thank you for your order."

I drive up and eyeball the man at the window. He's tall, shortish blond hair, blue eyes and about 21. I don't see anyone else close enough to describe, but this should be good enough.

After I get my order I drive to the police department about two blocks away. I rush in, panting and yell through the closed glass window, "Please, someone, help me." No response. This time I yell louder, "There's going to be a murder! You've got to help!"

The window slides open, and a uniformed cop asks, "What's this about a murder?"

I explain that I was just at MacDonald's and the details of what I heard over the loudspeaker. I describe the man at the window. "You need to come with me to describe the man," he says.

"All right."

When we get to MacDonald's we walk inside to the counter. There is a woman at the cash register. She looks at the cop and asks, "How may we help you?"

"I'd like to speak to Matt and Brad."


"Two young men who work here, Matt and Brad."

"I'm sorry. I don't know anyone by those names who works here."

"Are you sure?"

She gives him a haughty look and says, "Of course, I'm sure. I'm the manager, and I hire everyone."

"Oh," he responds quietly. "Well, may we take a look at the male personnel who are working here today."

"I can do that," she says smugly. "Just a minute. I'll get them." She is gone a couple minutes and returns with four young men.

The officer tells me to look them over to see if any of them served me.

I point to a tall young man with blond hair and blue eyes. "That's him!" I say.

"What is your full name?" the cop asks the man.

He trembles as he says, "It's Jeffrey Pierce Noble."

"Do you remember waiting on this woman?"

"Yes, I think I did. What is this about, Officer?"

"Hopefully, nothing," he says. "I believe that's all we need. Thank you for your assistance."

When they get outside the officer scratches his head. "Do you ever fall asleep in the middle of things?" he asks me.

"Well, yes," I say with reluctance. "I have narcolepsy."

"I guess that explains your fantasy, Miss. By the way, you know you're not supposed to be driving. Where's your license?"

I begin to sweat. "I don't have one."

"You don't have one," he snickers. "Come with me."

Private E-1
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:36 am

Re: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby DennisH » Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:42 am

“You found WHAT on the cheese? A RAT hair? How the hell do you know it was from a rat?”

“Because it was gray, thick, and rodent-like? Nobody here has hair like that, okay?”

“Um, yeah, so . . . shouldn’t we tell Nick? I’ve got five orders here, including the drive-thru ones.”

“I’ve mentioned bugs and stuff to him before, but he always brushes me off. Maybe it’s no big deal.”

Suddenly, I hear a blood-curdling scream in the background that tested the decibel capacity of the microphone and tinny speakers. Shouting follows and angry, high-pitched voices start to dominate the output. Then I notice people running from inside the joint to their cars outside. I try to get the attention of the person taking care of my order.

“Uh, pardon me, but is there a problem with my order?”

No answer, just more blaring sounds of voices that seem upset and scared. I tried again.

“Excuse me, but I’ve got to get back to work. Can I get my order please or is there something you need to tell me?”

A quivering voice answers.

“Sir, I’m so sorry. We have . . . I don’t know how to say it. We’re having a, um, technical problem at the moment.”

“Will that prevent me from getting my order in, say, the next three minutes?”

“I can’t really say, sir. It’s just that . . . “

Her voice was cut off by a surly sounding male voice that boomed through and distorted the speakers’ clarity.

“I’m going to have to ask you to come back later in the day. We have to close down the store temporarily.”

“Is there something wrong?”

“Sir, I just said we’re closing temporarily – please drive on through and let the other cars pass by as well.”

I decided not to argue and decided to pull through and park in one of lot’s parking spaces. I got out of my car and started to walk toward the entrance near the inside seats and order line. Before I was even ten feet in front of the door, two teenage girls ran out of the door, flailing their arms and shrieking, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Rats! Rats are eating the cheese!”

I noticed some of the customers who had been inside go quickly to their cars. There didn’t seem to be too many people inside, so I walked through the front door.

“I’m sorry, but we are closing temporarily. Come back later, please,” said a short, slightly overweight, bald man who seemed to be sweating and in command at the same time.

I noticed the name tag on this gentleman’s shirt: “Nick.”

“Pardon me, sir. You wouldn’t be Nicholas Sorrento, would you?”

There was a pause. He looked me up and down, took a beat, and said, “Yeah, that’s me.”

“How do you do? I’m from the County Health Department. We have an appointment in 30 minutes.”

Private E-1
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 7:48 am

Re: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby boredtotears » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:30 am

"What did you hear? That the cook does what?" It was the voice of the order taker. Clearly he wasn't talking to me.

"Ohhhh mannn he ya know.. DOES NOT wash his hands after going to the bathroom. And Jimmy says maybe he does more than just go to the bathroom when he is in there...." The rumorist chuckled.

Order taker..."NO way... how gross. So that's it... he does private things.. doesn't wash and goes back to cooking for customers? Isn't that against the law? " For some reason my impression was that the order taker was more impressed than grossed out. And my stomach wasn't feeling hungry anymore.

"Yah, the sign says "Employees must wash hands before returning to work' for a reason, dude. Can you believe it? "

Order taker: "Here is your order.... "

"No thanks, I think I'll pass..... "

Private E-1
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:39 am

Re: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Shlee » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:30 am

People thought I was crazy. They didn’t understand how I could eat Rancho Taquito every day. Having worked as a chef with a partner company, I knew the restaurant’s secrets. Unfortunately for everyone else, I wasn’t able to tell anyone. All I can say is that it’s not as bad as they think.

An ambulance siren sang on this sunny afternoon in Palm Beach. Being from New York, I learned to ignore them. Right now, I was craving a Guaquito like no other, so I turned up the radio and sped down the street past brightly colored buildings and some trees.

When I rolled up to the box, convertible-top down, I gazed at the menu. A minute later, I heard a familiar voice say, “Welcome to Rancho Taquito. What can I get for you?”

“Hey Randy,” I said. “I’ll have a Guaquito con queso, Ranchito Burrito extra spicy and Jalapeño Nachos.” I paused. “Yea, I think that covers all the food groups.”

I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the Fleetwood Mac song on the radio. Randy was taking too long to respond to confirm my order, so I turned the music down, leaned out of the car and was taken by surprise when the sound box came back on.

“Hey Booger, can you cover for the new girl at all this week?” that was the manager, Leroy.

“You serious?” Booger shouted.

“Yea, man,” Leroy yelled. “Girl got bit by a shark!”

I was astounded. Sure, I knew most of the staff personally, but the new girl was my girlfriend Shandra – she’d just accepted a position as a part-time chef at the restaurant. And I hadn’t heard a thing about a shark bite. The blue Honda behind me honked its horn.

“Yo, Randy!” I said into the box. “What’s up?”

“That’ll be eight-fifty, Mr. Rhodes,” Randy said, in his usual bored tone. “Please drive up to the window.”

I think my eye twitched as I accelerated. I hoped they were going to talk to me there.

“What’s up?” Randy asked. Nothing. He was a pale-faced, perpetually uninterested 23-year-old who hadn’t gotten over his acne, yet.

Leroy came to the window. “Hey Joe,” he said, smiling sympathetically. “Food’s on the house today.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, not concerned with my Guaquito. “What’s going on with Shandra?”

“Oh,” Leroy scratched his head. “You don’t know. You should probably go to the hospital.” He tossed my food out of the drive-thru window and closed it as the bag landed in my lap.

Disturbed by how detached everyone seemed, I drove out of the parking lot toward the hospital down the street. I’d seen shark attacks on the news, but wasn’t prepared to handle one.

I walked, timid and shaky, into the emergency room.

“There was a lot of blood,” the nurse said.

It was a while before they let me see her but when she showed me the gashes, I said, “That’s gonna be a sexy scar.”

User avatar
Posts: 216
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:54 pm

RE: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby Nedlo » Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:33 am

All I needed was one quick spin around the parking areas of the "golden arches" and realized the full lot signaled that the inside order counter was going to be chaos. It would be a clatter of noise, close bodies and screaming kids, and I needed a little peace and quiet before heading to the demands of my job. In a 12 hour shift, that would begin in less then hour, I would see enough of that kind of chaos and worse to last a normal person a life time.

The drive through lanes did not seem too bad, and leaving now would mean finding another fast food place, probably with the same type of crowded condition. I made a quick decision and pulled into the nearest drive through lane, sliding in beside a rusted blue car with two little girls in the front seat, a broken tail light, and a missing license plate. As an ER nurse it's normal for me to be able to pick up on details like that. The little girl next to the window turned her head and looked at me. She was crying and trying to say something. I recognize stress when I see it and felt sorry for this little one.

As usual the two way communications systems in these fast food lanes are horrible. No matter where I go, I always seem to get the one with the worst speaker. It usually has static or produces garbled sounds from the order taker that almost mimics a baby's babble.

Anyway I laid out my order; one Big Mac, fries, and coffee with double cream. No response from the order taker, just static and something unintelligible that sounded like "ambu urt." Again, vague words came through the static, just a bit clearer, "ammer urt!" The voice seemed frantic now and repeated "ammer urt!" "Urt" was close enough to "hurt", and this is a jump start word in the ER. Was somebody by the name of Ammer hurt? I could hear the sirens in the distance getting louder and coming my way. There must be an emergency going on inside. I jammed the car in gear, left the drive through lane, drove past a couple cars in line and slid in front of the blue car waiting to pickup an order. I made a mental note of apology to the grubby looking driver and the two girls for blocking them in, but this was an emergency.

I was met with definite chaos at the counter. The manager was wide eyed and apprehensive. The woman standing next to me kept saying "Oh My God!, Oh My God!" This ER nurse now kicked into high gear, grabbed the manager and "yelled where's Ammer?" "Where's the hurt kid?" She looked at me like I was crazy. The sirens had stopped just outside the door and everyone was looking that way. Police were all over the blue vehicle and had the grubby driver face down on the ground. The two little girls were tucked safe into the arms of a police officer, thanks to an "Amber Alert".

Private E-1
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:35 am

RE: Unsettling Fast Food Conversation - 8/18

Postby jules517 » Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:40 am

Good grief, am I hungry.

I glare at the Honda in front of me at the McDonald’s drive-thru. She ordering enough to feed an army, and her arm keeps appearing out the car window, waving at the speaker. Finally, she moves up, and I pull into her spot.

“Can I take your order?”

I order my fish sandwich meal and wait for the voice to tell me to pull up to the next window. Instead, there’s a screech, a shuffle, and a long “whooooooooa,” from the drive-thru guy.

“Ow,” someone whimpers.

I stare at the speaker.

“Dude, get it out!” the drive-thru guy squeaks.

“No, don’t, it’ll make it worse!” Someone else is there now. In front of me, the woman is leaning out of her car, yelling for someone to take her money.


“Dude, stop twitching, you’re just pulling on it. Aw, man, you’re getting blood on the prep table!”

I gasp. I can’t stop staring at the speaker, like if I look at it long enough, it’ll become a TV. In front of me, the woman yells a string of obscenities and takes off.

“That stupid idiot in the Honda,” comes the whiny reply. “Yelling at us. I was going to show her what’s up, yo!”

“So you stuck your thing in it?”

He can’t. He can’t possibly mean what I think he means. He can’t–

“What’s going on in there? Jerry, Martin, what the hell are you doing back here! Get back to the windows!”

Behind me, a driver beeps the horn of his car. I wave at him distractedly. Inside, Jerry and Martin are mumbling incoherently about helping Mikey.

“Helping Mikey what? Oh sweet Mother of Mercy! Is that the hamburger flipper stuck around your –“

Behind me, three horns blasted in unison.

I’m yelling out the window before I can think. “Hold your damn horses! I’m trying to listen!”

Inside, it goes quiet. Then the manager speaks.

“What was that?”

I throw my hand over my mouth.

“Jerry, is your mike still on?”

There is a shuffle. Jerry sticks his head out the window. I drop my gaze down. The speaker scratches.

“Uhhh, can I get you anything else?”

I hesitate. I certainly don’t want my fish filet now, but I have to know.

“No – I – You have to tell me. What got stuck? Was it – you know?”

Jerry gasps. “I– nothing. I don’t know. Nothing.” At the next window the manager sticks his head out. He disappears inside, then comes out the back door to my car.

“Ma’am, there’s nothing to be worried about. I’d love to buy you your meal today.”

“You can tell me,” I whisper conspiratorially. “I won’t tell, I swear.”

He’s sweating profusely. “Ma’am – I – no.”

The speaker screeches.

“Dude. I can’t believe Mikey stuck his foot in the flipper.”

The manager goes beet red, stands up straight, and punches the speaker.

I breathe a sigh of relief.


Return to Writing Prompts and Challenges

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests