10 Rules For Proper Drive-Thru Etiquette

There are unwritten rules one must follow to allow that everyone bathe equally in the glory.

The drive-thru might be God’s greatest gift to we mere mortals, allowing us to enjoy fast food without having to be seen wearing our sweatpants – or less. But there are unwritten rules one must follow to allow that everyone bathe equally in the glory. Show some respect by practicing these essential tips for good drive-thru etiquette.

1. Make Sure You Have Money


Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s free. Photo: Mike Schmid / Flickr

You’d think this would be glaringly obvious. You’d think wrong. You give the teller money; they give you food in return. It’s an integral part of the transaction and the only part you’re even responsible for, so don’t show up unless you’re certain you have the requisite $3.36, brah.

2. Use The Preview Menu


They even have pictures to help you out—it’s foolproof! Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr

Look, they put it there intentionally, so don’t go up to the microphone and stammer while the operator is at the ready. In addition to being rude to someone who already has a high-stress job, you’ll prevent this person from helping the rest of the kitchen staff, meaning that everyone else’s order will take longer, too. For shame.

3. Speak Clearly


Also, if you aren’t clear, and they mess up your order, it affects everyone. Photo: Dean Hochman / Flickr

What does this mean? Not too quiet and not too loud. Loud voices will distort the microphone, make it hard to understand you, and potentially hurt the operator’s ears. Mumble and you will make them want to stab your heart with a straw and drink your blood like a Shamrock Shake.

4. Know What You Want


“Hey, um, guys? Can you pay attention for a second and tell me what you want?” Photo: @polishedfun / Instagram

If you’re calling someone to get their order, GET IT BEFORE YOU’RE AT THE SPEAKER. Also, ask your kids what they want ON THE WAY THERE, because HAPPY MEALS COME WITH TONS OF OPTIONS. And if you don’t know what you want GO INSIDE AND ORDER AT THE COUNTER.

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5. Don’t Order Items from Other Restaurants


Maybe don’t ask the dude at McDonalds for a Whopper. Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr

This rule again might be obvious, but you’d be surprised. Sure, everyone knows that you can’t get a Taco Supreme at Wendy’s, but how many times do you think people have ordered “Chicken McNuggets” instead of “Chicken Nuggets." It’s a recipe to confuse an over-worked, underpaid drive-thru employee, so please limit yourself to the menu in front of you.

6. Use Actual Quantities


“Yes, I’d like to order a ‘small mountain’ of fries, please?” Photo: EvelynGiggles / Flickr

Don’t ask for “A fricking huge burger.” Why not? Because until Carl’s Jr. changes the name of the Six-Dollar Burger, there is no fast food restaurant currently selling a “fricking huge” burger. Also, you’re not Donald Trump.

Look at the menu and decide on a burger that looks appropriately “fricking huge” to satisfy your needs and order that. Also, don’t order a “ton of chicken nuggets,” because they come bundled in very easy-to-order quantities like “five” and “ten."

7. Follow Directions


If a dog can do it, so can you. Photo: Perry McKenna / Flickr

Sometimes, complex electronic communication systems that make your life easier don’t function properly. It’s not anyone’s fault, so try and be flexible if there’s an “Order at the Window” sign taped to the intercom.

Also, if you’re visiting during off-peak hours, the odds are that they’re not running two windows. Just pull forward to the second window like someone who knows what’s going on.

8. Leave Appropriate Amount of Space Between Cars


Exhibit A: This spacing is adequate. Photo: @soneegs / Instagram

Because the innocent people in front of you don’t need to worry about the bad day you’re having, it would be nice if you didn’t roll up on them like some prowler. It won’t help you get your food any quicker unless you intend to commit vehicular manslaughter.

__9. Don’t Pay in Coins __


If you can afford this coin purse, you can afford to pay cash. Photo: @dylan_kooba / Instagram

Look, I get it: you think it makes perfect sense for you to pay using the pennies that have been idling away in your ashtray year in and year out. But it only makes sense to you; to everyone else you’re a selfish prick-face.

You’ve just made everyone behind you wait while the cashier counts out all four hundred and seventy-eight pennies you just handed her, rendering fast food no longer fast.

10. Don’t Add Items at the Window


This. Takes. For-ev-er. Photo: @mayasisters_dubai / Instagram

Changing an order after placing one throws a wrench in the gears of the half dozen workers filling it. In fact, it often requires a manager or supervisor to override or cancel and then replace the original order. If you want something extra, grab the food you ordered in the drive-thru, park, and then go in.