Having worked in a drive-thru for two years now, I have seen plenty of habits people seem to think are acceptable. I am here to tell you that they are not. Here are 15 things you may be doing that your drive-thru workers sincerely wish you'd stop:
1. Ordering from the passenger’s side.
We cannot hear you. It's as simple as that. Our speaker box picks up the noises that are closest to it, and you are not one of those noises. You can scream your order as loud as you'd like, but at the end of the day you could save yourself, your driver, and your drive-thru worker the pain and simply have the person in the driver's seat order for you.
2. Talking to your steering wheel.
This is similar to the previous issue. When you neglect to turn your head to speak towards the speaker box, your order becomes a concoction of muffled noises. Look up from your phone, turn your body away from your steering wheel, and project your words towards the box. Please.
3. Saying “Hello?” before we get the chance to greet you.
There are exceptions to this rule. If you have been waiting at the speaker box for more than 60 seconds and have yet to hear a thing from the worker, it is perfectly acceptable to kindly grab their attention. Sometimes malfunctions can occur and we never receive the "ding" letting us know you're there, or maybe it was simply human error.
However, if you just pulled up to the box three seconds ago, it is not acceptable to ask for the worker's attention. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes. And it is possible that the drive-thru worker is attending to that and is unable to take your order right away. Please be patient.
4. Using pet names.
Unless we know each other personally, please refrain from calling me sweety, honey, babe, or anything else of the sort. You may be genuinely trying to be kind, but it makes many of us uncomfortable and can come across as demeaning.
5. Neglecting manners.
This one is rather broad. It also seems infantile to have to remind people to use their manners. However, if I didn't see it every day I wouldn't feel a need to write about it. Consider the following phrases:
"I need a..."
"I'm gonna have a..."
"Give me a..."
While they may not seem ill-mannered at the surface level, consider a few alternatives:
"May I please get a..."
"I would like to have a ____ please."
Pleases and thank yous will never go out of style. We just ask that you reconsider your word choice before ordering.
6. Dumping your old drink in the drive-thru lane to make room for your new one.
I will admit my guilt: I did this frequently before becoming a drive-thru worker. It wasn't until I saw just how disgusting it made the drive-thru lane appear that I knew I needed to stop this habit. Unless you are dumping water, your beverage dampens the appearance of the lane, will likely create a foul smell, and will now be the job of a worker to clean later that day.
7. Repeating your entire order when we only asked for clarification on one element of it.
Just because I need you to repeat one modification of your order does not mean I did not hear the rest. Trust that we know how to do our job.
8. Treating us like we are incompetent.
This point is closely related to the previous, but it is more all-encompassing. The stereotype that drive-thru workers are dull, unintelligent low-lifes needs to end. I will be graduating a semester early with my Bachelor's and am using this job to get me through school. I work with a Ph.D., college students and graduates, future nurses, mothers, intellectual thinkers, and many other competent human beings. Treat us as such.
9. Not making eye contact with us at the window.
This is just a general rule of respect. If your avoidance comes from social anxiety, make an effort to connect with us in other ways. However, if you simply neglect to so much as look at the person handing you your items, you are communicating to them that they are not worthy of your attention for whatever reason. We are human beings, not machines.
10. Holding out your payment the second you reach the window.
This may be a silly pet peeve, but I know I am not alone. Holding your form of payment out your car window as you pull up sends a message of impatience, even if that is not your intention. Please wait until we greet you to present your payment to us.
11. Expecting us to be able to break your $100 bill.
While this may not apply to all drive-thrus, it applied to a vast majority. We are not a bank, nor are we a large retailer. At the beginning of a shift, we are given a till with a set amount of change in it that will need to last us. We cannot simply break your large bill and expect to have enough change for future customers. It's not common knowledge, so if you have tried in the past there is no ill-will. However, if the worker politely tells you they cannot accept that form of payment, do not get angry with them. That's just the way it is and your attitude will not change that.
12. Driving away from the speaker box immediately after placing your order.
Once again, this communicates impatience. If you drive away without getting confirmation from the drive-thru worker there is no way to ensure they got your order completely correct.
13. Adding to and/or changing things about your order at the window.
Not only are we expected to deliver exemplary customer service, but we are also on a mission to get our customers in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you order something once you get to the window you are throwing this goal off its tracks. It's acceptable at times, especially if you are polite with your request, but we just ask that you be prepared with your entire, correct order at the speaker box.
14. Smoking in the drive-thru.
I am not judging smokers of any kind. That is your lifestyle choice and I respect that. However, I find it very difficult to believe that you cannot curb your urge to smoke for the few minutes you'll be in the drive-thru. You never know what someone may be allergic to, or what can irritate someone, or simply if someone detests the smell of smoke. Show respect and wait to partake in this activity until you are out of the drive-thru.
15. Overall, showing complete disrespect toward the person serving you.
If any of these points are news to you, you are not alone. I do not believe that every person who comes through a drive-thru intentionally does things to irritate or disrespect the workers. However, now that you are equipped with this knowledge you can be a better customer, and we can serve you more efficiently and effectively.