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A Letter to the Drive-Thru, From a Person Who Stutters

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Dear drive-thru,

You’re up there with the phone on my list of biggest adversaries. That’s quite an achievement considering we’ve only known each other since late 2010, while the phone has been a constant my entire life. Unlike the phone, I have yet to fully conquer you. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve used a phone in my life, but I can count on both hands how many times I’ve used you.

Whenever I think of my stuttering-related goals, conquering you is number one on my list.  I’ve said it so many times I feel as if I’m a broken record. When I’m asked why that is my goal I use my list of excuses — a list so old and worn, the ink is beginning to fade and the pages are wrinkled. I say it’s because I have complicated orders. I say it’s because I’d rather talk to a person face-to-face than hide behind a screen. I say it’s because if I do stutter I can easily point to the menu that’s right in front of me. I say it’s because most times I’m the passenger when I’m in the drive-thru lane. I say it’s this. I say it’s that. I say it’s everything, but what it really is.

After hearing my laundry list of excuses, the person I’m talking to says something along the lines of, “The only way to conquer it is to do it.” I respond with, “I know.” It’s a scene I’ve been in so many times that I have everyone’s lines memorized by this point. What I don’t tell them are my failures. The time I was with my sister and cousin and stuttered through the majority of the order. My embarrassment became the fourth member of our hour-long journey to visit a college, but he didn’t talk the entire time. The time my friend was in the car and I ordered Wendy’s for the both of us. I was nervous because it was the first time a non-family member heard me use you. I stuttered hard on the word “ketchup.” I was beyond mad at myself, and he didn’t understand why I was mad.

On the flip side, I don’t tell myself my successes, nor allow myself to celebrate the small victories from the times I’ve used you. The time last summer when I placed a late-night Wendy’s order for 10 of my friends and only stuttered a couple of times. This time I was the passenger in my friend’s car, but I ordered because I had the list on my phone. I could’ve easily excused myself from our visit and had my friend order, but I wanted to face you. ONe time after I ordered Cane’s after getting back from the NSA conference. The only issue with my order was the employee heard “fruit punch” and not “unsweet tea.” I could’ve lived with the error, but that would’ve meant you had won that round. Instead, I corrected the order because my need for unsweet tea with lemon trumped any chance I may stutter.

You’re still on my list, but not has high up on it as you used to be. I have won a few battles, but I have yet to win the war. Just wait, though. You will be another name I can cross of my list of adversaries and add to my list of things I’ve conquered.

Just you wait.

Getty image by booker5m

Originally published: March 19, 2018
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