He’s Dr. Phil of the Drive-Thru


It wasn’t the first time I’d gone through his drive-thru window at McDonald’s.

I knew it wasn’t my first time because of his voice. It was unforgettable.

So when I drove through that window, having recognized “that voice” and “that personality” that captures your attention in an instant, I knew I needed to speak to this man. I needed to know more about him. Because he seemed to love his life. At least, he seemed to love his job. Or maybe he just did a great job making the best of his job.

I told Reno I’d love to contact his supervisor and asked if we could meet someday during his lunch break. I handed him my blog business card through the drive-thru window and promised I’d be in touch.

One week later, we sat down for 20 minutes together during Reno’s lunch break at McDonald’s.

I asked him what made him tick, what made him love his work. Because I’d heard the kindness and the depth of his soul through his voice. I’d seen the fire inside him come straight through that drive-thru window. And it was a beautiful, beautiful fire, like this man is ready to light the world on fire, kind of fire.

That’s when Reno told me. “I beat the odds in my life.”

In 2000, he experienced a house fire. He was 21 years old when that happened. And since then, he’s had a better perspective on life.

Prior to the house fire, he had a job at the YWCA as a child care provider. At that time, he felt the purpose of his life was to provide motivation and direction for younger children who desperately needed it.

After the house fire, he got a job at McDonalds working in the drive-thru.

One day when Reno was working in the drive-thru, a man came through. He’d been through before and had engaged with Reno on several occasions. On this particular day, the man approached Reno with an unexpected offer. “How do you feel about making more money than McDonald’s?” He had lost an employee at his metal finishing business, and was looking for a replacement. He wanted Reno on his team. Reno felt blessed to have been offered this great opportunity, which would also provide him more money than his work at the McDonald’s drive-thru.

So Reno left McDonald’s. And he began working in metal finishing – stripping metal, coating metal, and using a fork lift to transport it here and there. McDonald’s, in the meantime, realized the value Reno added to their business, so they asked him to come back. Now Reno keeps two jobs, one shift at McDonald’s, and another shift at the metal finishing business.

He’s busy “working on bettering himself” and “focusing on responsibilities” and his “well being.” He has five children to provide for – a 6 month old, 7 year old, 12 year old, 14 year old, and 17 year old. He takes his life and responsibilities seriously. I can tell.

Reno shared that he “talks to the man upstairs” and prays “morning, night, anytime.” He feels like he “has a direct connection.” It’s “like HD (high definition),” he says.

Reno’s communication with “the man upstairs” clearly translates to the McDonald’s drive-thru window. Heck, that’s what captured my attention when I came through his window. His voice is incredible, phenomenal, memorable by anyone’s standards. And his personality, just awesome, lovely, delightful. He’s a warm, gentle soul. A man you’d be blessed to engage with any day.

So I wanted to know – what motivates Reno, what keeps him so upbeat in the McDonald’s drive-thru, what’s the philosophy he’s operating under so we can all learn from this man?

Here’s what he said.

Reno is intentional about communicating well with the customers that come through the drive-thru window. He never knows what kind of day they’ve been having, so his goal is to “keep a positive beat.” Even if customers are not responsive, he tries to be “kind and grateful.”

Reno says “I’m kind of like the Dr. Phil of the drive-thru.”

People will change McDonald’s and become “regulars” just because they want to engage with Reno regularly.

I can totally see why people would rearrange their routes to have an opportunity to engage with Reno more regularly. And I can totally see why he’s the “Dr. Phil of the drive-thru.” Because he is. He truly is.

Our conversation was lovely and delightful and I loved every bit of who Reno was, who Reno is. But I had one more question to ask before we parted ways.

I wanted to know what Reno’s ultimate dreams were for his life. I had a hunch those dreams might have something to do with his voice, and I was right. He knew right away – he’d do voiceovers, be a radio DJ, or a motivational speaker.

And with that, I got goose bumps all over. Within seconds, he got goose bumps all over, too. We showed each other our holy goosebumps.

Perhaps we were on to something. Perhaps “the man upstairs” was trying to tell us something that day. Perhaps Reno was made to do voiceovers or become a radio DJ. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he was made to be a motivational speaker.

(Reno, this next part is just for you.)

Perhaps you’ll become a motivational speaker. Perhaps we crossed paths for a reason. Perhaps I’ll see you speak on stage someday. That would be awesome. And if not, I’m confident that you’re motivating people already through that drive-thru. Motivating people to be kind, motivating people to be grateful, motivating people to love, motivating people to live, motivating people to live this day a little differently than they had prior to coming through your line.

So motivate on, Reno. I’m 100% behind you. You are the awesomest.

I do believe your call is to motivate, to love on people with your voice, with who you are.

So motivate on, Reno.

Motivate on.




  1. Linda Johnson says:

    How awesome to not only sense this about Reno but to follow through and have mutual thoughts on letting your light shine wherever you are! Which McDonald’s does Reno work at? I’d love for him to meet my Brandon! (Kinda think they’d have a few similar things to discuss. 🙂 )

  2. Janaya Hopkins says:

    Reno I am proud of you and not only do you touch customers lives but our daughters lives and our family.I have seen you through some of life challeges and you still stayed motivated and determined.:-) You have come along way and your goals still in fast progress.To witness who you are and life experiences with you,you are strong willed and never let life keep you from pushing forward.You continue to be fine and grateful your favorite saying. I will continue to be apart of someone special to my heart :-). Congratulations on being you!

  3. Amy, oh, wow, girl–why have I been away so long? This is so beautiful–so Jesus. Just all of it. I will be thinking about Reno for a long time now. Thank you. I’m so grateful for your heart and how you listen and how you love!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Jennifer. You are just the sweetest. Praying for the day we’ll meet. And I’m going to love you even more than I already do.

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