Working the Drive-Thru;

A Kanuk, Alaska story;

By Voni Harris;


Before Keisha began working at the nursing home (See “Short-Story Tuesday: Fireweed”), she had to allow God to do His work in her life.                     

 Keisha hated the gray uniform she had to wear to work at Kanuk’s Burger Joint! Hated it! But this is what her life had come to… handing bags of burgers out a fast-food window.

She sighed as she took the fries out of the fryer, salted them, and bagged up a large order.

Well, the customers didn’t need to be afflicted with her malaise, especially since seeing her friends and neighbors and meeting tourists and newcomers was actually the highlight of her job. So, she put on a smile added a bacon burger to the bag, and stepped to the drive-thru window.

“Thanks, Mr. Simpkins. Have a good day.” she said, handing him the bag. She waved at Karen, and gave the sign for see-ya that Karen had taught her last Sunday at church.

Mr. Simpkins, distracted by digging in the bag for a piping hot fry, nodded and waved as he drove off.

She waved at Salmon at the front counter. He came in several times a week, and they’d gotten to know each other a little bit. “Hey, Harold,” she called to the cook, “Salmon just came in. Get me a bacon burger, mustard on the side, please.”

She grabbed a hot apple pie and a bag of fries on her way over to the counter. “Good morning, Mr. Jenkins. How’s your wife today?”

Salmon had told her his wife was struggling with cancer.

“She’s not feeling very well, today, I’m afraid.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” she said with a frown as she rang up his order. “Do you want to order something to take to her?”

“What do you think I do the with apple pies I always buy when I come in,” he teased.

“I thought YOU were eating them,” she said in surprise. Then her eyes began to twinkle. “I kept wondering why you weren’t gaining weight.”

His face fell. “I wish they’d help Jennie put on some weight,” he said, shaking his head. “Doctors at the nursing home can’t figure it out.”

She turned around to grab the bacon burger and side of mustard in one hand, and a large coke with the other. “Well, we’re always glad to cook for you, Salmon,” she said softly. “Tell Jennie I’m praying for her. And you.”

She was relieved when the smile returned to his face. “I’ll tell her, Keisha. And thank you.”

Thinking of Jennie, Keisha shook her head. She felt her heart move inside her…now that was something she’d truly like to do, help people heal. She sighed and prayed under her breath. “Jesus, is this really all you have planned for me? Is being a fast-food girl all I’m really good for? I mean, you know how it is: ‘You better study hard, or you’re gonna grow up to flip burgers for a living.’ I did study. I really did try to follow your will. Yet here I am…a burger flipper.”

She laughed at herself for having a tiff with God. She trusted Him; she just didn’t see her way out of this fast-food hole, that was all.

She grabbed a cloth and began wiping the counter and she began praying for Jennie and Salmon. A sudden thought swept through her heart. She’d ask Salmon on his next visit to Burger Joint; maybe Jennie would like a visit at the nursing home, even if they didn’t know each other.

Salmon walked to the car with his bag of food and his drink. Burger Joint’s apple pies were about all he could coax his wife to eat these days, but that was only half the reason he bought food there two or three times a week.

It was Keisha. Her smile always brightened his day, as did the easy way she always placed his regular order for him without asking what he wanted. He noticed genuine concern over Jennie in her eyes when she asked after his beloved. He enjoyed bantering with her as she waited on him. She made him miss his grandkids down South less.

He wondered if Keisha knew that?

Her back was to the front counter as she wiped out the burger slide, so Keisha didn’t see the customer come in. But she heard him.

“Excuse me, please.”

She whirled around to see a man about her age, his pants tucked into his extra-tuff boots, blonde hair peeking out from his hat.

He saw her, and she saw his jaw drop just ever so slightly before he caught himself. A mischievous look overtook his face.

“Hello, my name is Cameron. If you don’t mind, ma’am, I’ve been on a commercial fishing boat for four long, harrowing weeks, and, believe me, I’m DYING for a burger.”


I’m offering a freebie "How to Write a Short-Story" to anyone who comments on my blog this week. I thought especially the homeschoolers.  Please comment today…what kind of "drive-thrus" have you worked in your life, waiting for your "real life" to start?


Stories of Salmon and Jennie are here and here