A McDonald’s employee has shared on social media a little-known insider secret, revealing how drive-thru staff know whose order belongs to whose car—as literally hundreds of vehicles patronize their outlet each day.
It turns out, computerized eyes and ears are keeping track of customers as they cruise through and make their orders.
TikTok user Katie, who goes by the handle @katieeclarkee, dangled the question on her social media account. “Ever wondered how McDonald’s know whose car is whose?” she asked.
Katie, 17, who works at McDonald’s part-time while attending college, then provided the answer to that mystifying question.
“There is a camera and it takes a picture of you and your car,” she shared alarmingly. “So maybe don’t pick your nose when you order, because we see it and we judge you.”
A bit of sound advice from Katie; it’s funny but also somewhat concerning.
Her video has since gone viral, garnering over 5 million views, and alerting drive-thru customers everywhere that they are being watched.
(Courtesy of Katie Clarke)
Katie’s footage shows an insider view of the drive-thru computer screen while working. As an order is placed, the camera snaps a photo, links it to the order, and allows staff at the collection window to match the two with ease—even if drivers change positions in line.
Thousands of netizens responded to Katie’s exposé, many shocked to discover McDonald’s employs cameras to improve its efficiency.
One viewer claimed the system was new, commenting, as reported in the Mirror, “We didn’t have that when I worked there last year.”
Another McDonald’s employee joined the online conversation, adding that the system also uses audio microphones. Speech recognition, they explained, triggers McDonald’s employees’ headsets to switch on as soon as a car approaches.
“I’m waiting for the day they realize we hear them the moment they pull up, to the moment they leave the speaker box,” they said wryly.
This story was last updated in February 2021.