“Drive-Thru” is part of a collection of stories revolving around a fast-food restaurant, a setting with which virtually everyone in the United States is familiar, many of them as employees. My own experiences working in fast food occurred while a high school student in California and while a graduate student in Mississippi. Like the narrator, I grew up in a very sheltered and religious setting; fast-food work was my first time out “in the world,” and the employees were unlike people I had formally spent time with. The riot following the verdict in the Rodney King beating case happened while I was still living in the Los Angeles area, though not while I was working fast food. My experience then involved retail, and where I was living, very little looting or rioting occurred, but there was enough that the store I worked at, and the other businesses on our street, opted to close their doors. One business in our suburban town was burned to the ground. I remember watching much of the looting on television and smelling the smoke from the large number of fires that had been set ten miles away. Thus, “Drive-Thru” essentially combines a lot of my teenage and young adult experiences. The narrator’s naivety is/was to some extent my own. I wanted the story to touch on how our experiences only partway get us to the point of understanding and empathizing with others and the actions they might take.
While this story merges several autobiographical elements, ideas for my stories come from various sources. Sometimes a story emerges from an exercise. Sometimes I’m trying to perform a trick I’ve never seen done before or that I’ve seen someone else do and want to see what I can do as well. Sometimes I’m just wondering what would happen if…. And other times, I’m playing out philosophical issues.