Well, I’m officially paranoid.
Fast food employees on TikTok and Reddit are revealing what really happens behind the scenes at a drive-thru — and it might make you feel paranoid the next time you pull up to that window.
So, let’s break this down. It all started when TikTok user @zandergjura shared a peek behind the curtains of the Starbucks drive-thru where he works. First, TikTok was shocked to learn that employees are actually watching you on camera while you order.
“We can see you when you pull up. We can see your face. In your car and everything,” Zander says in his TikTok, which has amassed over 1.5 million views so far.
In another viral TikTok, Zander revealed that it’s not just your drive-thru attendant who can hear you while you speak — every employee in the store has a headset to hear your order come through. So even though you might think you’re talking to one person…you might be talking to, like, 10 people.
“That means we can all hear you while you order your drinks at the drive-thru,” Zander teases in the video. “Good luck ordering at the next drive-thru.”
And Zander isn’t the only drive-thru worker spilling secrets. The conversation continued on Reddit, where several employees at various chains echoed Zander’s stories — and shared some absolutely WILD behind-the-scenes insights of their own.
Reddit user u/HawaiianShirtsOR asked drive-thru workers, “How sensitive are the microphones? What unexpected stuff have you heard from customers who didn’t think you could hear them?”
Here are just a few of the things that drive-thru workers — and occasionally, every employee in the restaurant — have overheard from customers:
“I don’t think most people realize that if your car is pulled up on the sensor that triggers the microphone, we can hear what you’re saying the entire time. I have heard conversations about abortion, people complaining about a long line, straight-up badmouthing my coworkers, etc. I advise you to put your window back up after you order.”
“As long as your car is over the sensor, the person can hear you, just a warning for anyone who wants to chat about any sensitive topics. Commonly heard about STIs, secret pregnancies, and embarrassing medical issues — which was all the worse given that I worked in a small town and I often knew these people.”
“People don’t realize that everyone working in the fast food place hears you, not just the person you’re talking to. At least at my Wendy’s, we all wore headsets.”
“Just a heads up…most new Starbucks drive-thrus (2017 and newer) also have a camera in them. We can see you picking your nose…”
“We don’t have just mics, we also have a camera and can see people when they order. I’ve had people flip me off not knowing I can see, usually if we ran out of something. Or people calling us names under their breath. It’s actually a lot of rude people.”
“I am in a college town, so I’ve heard it all. Lots of conversations about sex and drugs. Sometimes I will leave them waiting so I can listen to the rest of the conversation.”
“We can hear not only your conversations, but if your car is Bluetooth, we can most definitely hear the conversation from your phone.”
“I once heard someone having phone sex on the drive-thru speaker.”
“Once, this lovely regular couple pulled up and the husband let out a MASSIVE belch before I could greet them, so I came on kinda giggling just like, ‘Goodness!’ And the wife was just mortified. ‘You heard that!?’ I couldn’t help but laugh.”
“We can hear everything! Every sneeze, cough, mouse fart, everything. Please do not shout at the speaker, speak normally. Please speak to the speaker, not your steering wheel, not your passenger, not your floor boards. Also, please don’t swear at us, because once we turn our mic off, we sure as hell are cussing you out if you do it to us.”
“I once heard a guy on the phone learn that his wife was pregnant, which was cool.”
“One time, a lady was on the phone with a girlfriend talking about how she’d just found out she was pregnant, but didn’t know how to tell her husband that it was his brother’s baby. While my husband had a lady come through one time, also on the phone, talking about how her recent STI test had come back ‘positive’ and she was so relieved she was ‘clean’…”
“Short answer? Those things can and will pick up every little thing you say in the car. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s children screaming what they want, sometimes it’s a conversation on the phone speaker. I’ve heard arguments, discussions. I’ve heard people threaten their families when nobody can decide what to eat. Yeah, I can hear you.”
“Just as everyone else says, yes, as long as you are in front of the sensor, we can hear you. The whole time. We put a lady on hold once for a few seconds because we were a lil’ busy. Then she and the person in the passenger’s seat started having a pretty heated argument. We heard some moving and thudding noises, followed by one of them saying ‘You want a piece of this?!’ and heard the car honk outside. That order was awkward when we took it.”
And finally, on a happier note…
“Once heard someone saying ‘Stay buckled baby! You’ll get a treat-treat if you’re good, okay?’ and I thought they were talking to a child. They pulled up to the first window and there was a kitten in the front passenger seat trying to climb up the back. :)”
Welp, let this be a lesson to you: When going through the drive-thru, assume that everyone can see and hear you — and I mean, everyone. Behave accordingly!!!
For more secrets from the drive-thru, you can follow Zander at @zandergjura on TikTok.
Note: Some Reddit responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.