GTPulse: Traverse City Teen Inspires Laughs Through Fast Food Window
What’s making you smile these days? For those visiting the Arby’s on Munson Avenue in Traverse City, it might be Dylan Stachowski. The 16-year-old taking your order is known around town for adding a little flair to every exchange he has with a customer.
“We call him the ringmaster because it sounds like he’s running the circus. We’ve heard a lot of comments that he has a radio quality voice,” said mom and manager Renae Hubbell.
Dylan delights and entertains customers with a grandeur voice and character that his co-workers affectionately refer to as The Ringmaster. The theatrical rolls and peaks of his character’s voice is further enhanced by proper ringmaster lingo.
Dylan is a Grand Traverse Academy student. He has spent the summer working at Arby’s, his first job and started right as the lockdown began.
“I think it was my fourth day when we got shut down,” he said.
Shutting down and navigating a reopen amid a pandemic hasn’t dampened Dylan’s bright spirit, however. He returned to work with a willingness to learn and a bright attitude.
“They had me on the front counter at first. I got the register down within the first few hours, and then a few days later I came in and they said, ‘Congratulations! You just got promoted to headset.’ It was positively nervewracking.”
Meeting Dylan, you wouldn’t think having to talk to people on a headset would be something he’d be nervous about. His cheery attitude doesn’t have the slightest whiff of introversion, and after already having a positive experience with customer interactions face to face, why would talking to them over a headset be any different?
“I was put on the headset, I did one order and I realized there was this odd…barrier. I don’t like barriers. Talk to any of my friends. I am that one friend that will walk through any emotional barrier to make sure that you are ok. So I started thinking about what little things I could do to break through that. It was in between orders, one I did regular, the next I answered with, ‘Hello Hello and welcome to Arby’s! What can I get you on this beautiful and wondrous day?’ I haven’t stopped ever since.”
The popularity spread throughout town and has drawn a few regulars looking for a laugh. Although most interactions are positive, he can’t get a laugh from everyone.
“I said, ‘What can I get you on this wondrous day?’ and he goes, ‘Well the day’s not actually wondrous and the clouds are showing so. Meh.’ Sadly I didn’t get to make him laugh.”
You can’t win them all, but Dylan definitely wins most of them. A post on a Traverse City Facebook group about the “Young guy who goes way overboard with a British accent,” garnered comments from others who have had the pleasure of ordering their food from Dylan. Enthusiastic replies stating their resulting smiles and laughs after a Dylan encounter only proves what his mom already knows.
“I’m very proud. He has exceeded my expectations so much. Every time I hear someone talking about him it makes me want to cry. People really need a reason to smile right now,” she said.
Sometimes it goes beyond a smile. While some get a quick grin or laugh from Dylan’s antics, it means more to others. Especially those who spend a lot of time alone.
“I had one customer stop me and signal me to open the window again, which usually means I did something wrong so I was worried. She told me that for a long time she hasn’t felt the urge to smile and I made her laugh out loud for five minutes.”
The interactions are only through a headset half of the interaction. When customers pull around they’re excited to see the man behind the voice.
“He bows to them after he gives them their food,” Renae said. “ He doesn’t stand back up until he thinks they’re gone.”
For Dylan, it’s all apart of the entertainment.
“It’s the showmanship! Once the curtain closes you don’t let anybody see what’s behind the scenes.”
If Dylan is having a bad day at work, you would never know it. Giving people a laugh and a smile is Dylan’s favorite kind of work to do, and he takes the job seriously.
“If they’re laughing, I’m happy.”
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