drive thru post
Photo by RDNE Stock project on

Drive-thrus—a pinnacle of laziness or convenience? As a European navigating the roads of North Carolina, I found myself face-to-face with my first drive-thru experience. CookOut, a late-night haven, offered no inside seating, leaving me at the mercy of the walk-in window. Little did I know that a world of confusion and linguistic bewilderment awaited me, courtesy of a poorly placed menu and perplexing exchanges with underpaid workers.

As I pulled up to the drive-thru speaker, I quickly realized that convenience was not the only thing lacking. The menu, inconveniently positioned alongside the speaker, provided no time to decipher its offerings. While I could have asked for a moment, I didn’t want to inconvenience the cars waiting behind me. The jumbled menu options left me scratching my head, trying to make sense of a culinary puzzle in a foreign land.

But the true surprise came when I interacted with the person taking my order. Their greeting, a linguistic mishmash, left me wondering if it was English or an inside joke among colleagues. Confused but undeterred, I confidently ordered a burger, only to be asked how I wanted it cooked. Cooked? Isn’t that implied? The tray options boasted an array of items, yet half of them were off-limits. Consequently, my order morphed into an unexpected combination of a corn dog and a quesadilla.

cookout walkin

This drive-thru encounter was not an isolated incident. Time and again, at various drive-thrus, I found myself lost in translation. Even with a degree in English, I struggled to comprehend the peculiar dialects spoken through the intercom. At first, I doubted my own language skills. Then I wondered if it was a generational lingo. Perhaps I simply didn’t understand the true nuances of American English. However, the truth began to unravel—it was a curious blend of underpaid workers and the infamous Southern accent that had me confounded.

I must say though, in certain areas of the state which, I have had no issues whatsoever and the food most of the time has looked like It’s supposed to rather than the multiple inconsistencies faced where I am currently staying. My colleagues brush it off as “Higher European Standards”…

So, next time you find yourself entering the realm of American drive-thrus, brace yourself for a linguistic adventure. Embrace the quirks, the miscommunications, and the unexpected combinations. Just remember, in the drive-thru world, anything can happen, and language can take on a whole new meaning.


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