A side order of drama at the drive-through window 

hamburger with pickles, lettuce and melted cheese

Huh. I don’t remember asking for sarcasm or attitude with my order.

I pulled up to the drive-through window to order lunch.

The speaker clicked, then gushed out a stream of static and crackling.

“Excuse me?” I asked, leaning my head out the window.

The speaker hissed, then shrieked with a horrible feedback-like squeal. I jumped back, holding my ear.

“Mumble mumble mumble,” said the speaker.

I sucked in a breath, leaning out of my window uncertainly. “Hello?”

“Mumble,” the speaker said.

“Hello?” I said again.

“Can I get your order!” screamed a young woman’s voice from the speaker.

Startled, I jumped, my head hitting the roof.

“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my head and wincing. “Just a second. I got to read the menu.”

The car behind me honked. “Come on, pal!” a guy screamed.

I perused the glass-enclosed menu that stood in a large stand alongside the speaker. “OK. I think I know what I want.”

“Mumble,” the speaker said.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” the young woman’s voice screamed, followed by a stream of hissing.

“Sorry,” I said. “Can I get a chicken sandwich with mustard instead of mayonnaise and no tomato, with a side of large fries and a medium root beer?”

“Can I get your order!” screamed the young woman’s voice.

The car behind me honked again. The guy drove forward and slammed into the back of my car. I lurched forward, my head hitting the steering wheel.

“Today!” the guy in the car screamed.

“Your order!” the young woman screamed from the speaker. “May I take your order!”

“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my nose and the top of my head. “Can I get a chicken sandwich with mustard instead of mayonnaise and no tomato, with a side of large fries and a medium root beer?”

“Mumble,” said the speaker.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

The speaker hissed and crackled.

“I’m sorry?” I said.

The car behind me honked and rammed into my car again. Then the guy leaned out of his car and chucked an empty beer bottle through my back window. Glass exploded everywhere as the bottle careened inside and struck me in the back of the head.

“Would that be all for you today!” screamed the young woman from the speaker.

I rubbed my nose with one hand, and the top and back of my head simultaneously with the other. “Yeah.”

“Excuse me!” the young woman screamed.

“C’mon, jerk!” bellowed the man in the car behind me.

“Yes!” I said. “Yes, that will be all!”

“Mumble,” said the speaker.

“I’m sorry?” I said.

“So I got a chicken sandwich with mayonnaise instead of mustard and no tomato, with a side of large fries and a medium root beer?” the woman screamed.

I grimaced, rubbing my nose and head. “I guess that sounds right.”

“C’mon!” The guy in the car behind me rammed my car, then backed up and rammed it again, then backed up and rammed it once more time, so that my rear hatch looked like a caved-in crumple of metal.

“$38.02 at the first window, please!” the woman screamed from the speaker.

I put my car in gear and eased forward in line. My car’s back hatch fell off and landed in the drive-through lane. The guy behind me barreled over it and parked in front of the speaker to give his order.

I pulled in front of the first window. No one was there.

I leaned out of my car. “Excuse me?”

No one appeared at the window.

The guy behind me, who had finished ordering, shot forward and slammed into the back of my car. My face flew forward and struck the steering wheel, knocking out my two front teeth.

The window flew open, and a young man stuck his head out. “OK, so I got a chicken sandwich with mayonnaise instead of mustard and no onions, with a side of large fries and a medium Coke?”

I stuck my tongue in the gap where my front teeth used to be. “I theenth so.”

“$38.02!” the young man said, holding out his open hand. “$38.02!”

“OK,” I said. “I theenth I have two pennies.”

The guy behind me backed up and rammed into my car, then backed up and rammed into it again.

I handed the young man a bill. “Hereth’s a fifty. I theenth I have two pennies.”

I reached under the seat and started feeling around for loose change.

The guy behind me backed up and rammed into my car. My head shot forward and plunged into the steering wheel, deploying the air bag.

Meanwhile, the clerk was ringing up the order on the register.

“Waith!” I said. “I theenth I have two pennies.”

The clerk dumped a a handful of change into my hand, along with a ten-dollar bill. “There you go. Second window, please.”

“You’re not goingth to count my change?” I asked.

The guy behind me backed up and rammed into my car, shooting me forward to the second window. I came to an abrupt stop.

A young woman wearing an earpiece opened the window. “Good afternoon,” she said, looking directly at me.

“Good afternoon,” I said.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” she screamed. She cupped the earpiece to her head. “So that’s a #4 with large fries and a Coke. $12.67 at the first window, please.”

“She takes the orders and serveth the food?” I said to myself.

“Excuse me?” the young woman asked, glaring.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” I screamed.

The young woman ripped a ticket from the register and read it. “OK, so I got a chicken sandwich with mayonnaise instead of mustard and lots of onions, with a side of small fries and a bottled water?”

I frowned. “That doesnth sound quite right.”

“Well, that’s what it says here,” the woman said. She cupped her earpiece again. “Good afternoon, welcome to Burger Place.”

“Why are you welcomingth me?” I asked, rubbing my head. “I’m already here.”

“I wasn’t talking to you!” the woman screamed, glaring at me. She slammed the window and turned her back.

“C’mon!” screamed the guy behind me, blaring on his horn.

“That guy muth really be hungry,” I said.

The window flew open. “What’s that?” the young woman said.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” I screamed.

She hurled a tray of food at me. The foil-wrapped burger tumbled onto the floor, and the fries tipped over into my lap.

“There’s your order!” she said. “Have a nice day!”

“Do you hath the small root beer?” I asked. “I thought I orderth a small root beer?”

“C’mon!” screamed the guy behind me. He backed up and then plunged forward, slamming into my car. My head lurched forward and slammed into the dashboard, knocking out the rest of my teeth.

“You didn’t order a root beer,” the woman said. “It says so on the ticket. You had a chicken sandwich with mayonnaise instead of mustard and lots of onions, with a side of medium fries and a bottled water.”

“Mumble mumble,” I said, running my tongue along my bleeding gums and the shards of enamel protruding from them.

“Excuse me?” the woman asked.

I hissed and crackled, my voice a stream of static as I gurgled on blood and saliva.

“Mumble,” I said.

I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw the guy behind me leaning out of his window, holding a rocket launcher. I put my car in gear and raced out of the drive-through lane.

I drove to a nearby park to eat my lunch. I scooped as many of the fries as possible from my lap, and when I unwrapped the sandwich, a Swiss mushroom burger with extra tomatoes tumbled out.

It smelled delicious. Only I couldn’t eat it, because I had no teeth.

I looked at the burger in my hand, and tears formed in my eyes.

“Mumble,” I said.

And later, when I realized that the first clerk had shortchanged me by a dollar, I started hissing and crackling like a broken speaker.

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