Having worked far too long in the food service industry, i’ve seen my share of people who seem to have absolutely no idea how drive-thru restaurants work. I’ve suffered no end of heartache and aggravation from people who can’t seem to grasp what should be blatantly obvious, and i’ve finally come to the conclusion that what the world needs is a simple guide to the thou shalts and thou shalt nots of the process. So here it is - a guide to the uninformed and a pitting of the clueless.
1) An there beith a preview board, thou shalt use it. Many drive-thrus now have two separate menu boards - one with the attached speaker, and a second menu one car-length behind the speaker. This is known as a “preview board” because the customer can look it over before advancing to the speaker and starting the restaurant’s speed-of-service timer. If you don’t know what you want, USE this board. Don’t drive past it straight to the speaker, ask the clerk to “gimme a second”, and then spend two or three minutes staring at it while the speed-of-service time gets higher and higher.
2)Thou shalt not shout “Hello?” or honk thy horn if there is a delay at the speaker. Just because the clerk isn’t ready to take your order the second you pull up doesn’t mean they’ve taken off their headset, clocked out, and gone home. Shouting “Hello?” or honking your horn will not make whatever the clerk is working on go away and it WON’T get your order taken any faster - it only aggravates the clerk and potentially deafen them when they get a 110-decibal blast in the speaker strapped directly onto their ear.
3) Thou shalt not ask the clerk questions that could be answered by reading the menu. How much does the chicken sandwich cost? What comes on the TripleMax Superburger Deluxe? This is what the menu is FOR. It’s the big thing right in front of you with all the words and numbers on it, not to mention the great big pictures where each item has been carefully posed to display each of its ingredients in larger-than-life detail. Use it.
4) Thou shalt NOT add to thy order at the window. Doing this requires the clerk to go back in and change your order (which at many restaurants requires a manager’s approval to void part or all of the order), delays us getting your order out while we make whatever you decided you just couldn’t live without during the lengthy 20’ drive from the speaker to the window, and delays everyone behind you getting what they want as well. Just don’t do it.
5) If there is a line at the window, thou shalt start counting thy money before reaching it. We tell you what your total is at the speaker. Most restaurants also have video screens that show your total in big numbers. There is no reason for you to not know your total before you leave the speaker. If there’s a car ahead of you at the window, there is no reason for you not to start counting out your money before you get there. Reaching the window after a three-minute wait and THEN deciding to start counting out the $37 in nickels you intend to pay me with is just lazy.
6) Thou shalt use actual numbers when ordering a quantity greater than one. I don’t know how many “a couple”, “a bunch”, “a lot”, or “a shitload” of hamburgers is. I never learned those numbers in kindergarten. If you ask me for such a quantity, I will ask you to be more specific. The same goes for sauces. Our default is to give you one package of sauce for each item that requires it. If you ask me for a specific larger number I will give you that many, but if you ask me for “a bunch” or “a lot” I will give you two packages for each item. If you ask me for “a shitload” I may ask you not to come back to my store.
7) Thou shalt NOT use curse words into the drive-thru speaker. This one follows from the Sixth Commandment. The speaker you’re talking into is connected to a loudspeaker which is audible to everyone in the kitchen and, often, to everyone in the lobby as well. This is a family business and more often than not there are children dining in our lobby. It is not appropriate for you to pull up to my speaker and start using profanity towards me, let alone my staff and customers. An idle slip of the tongue may be excused, but do it again and you’ll be asked to leave.
8) Thou shalt not order another restaurant’s menu items from us. We don’t sell Big Macs here. We don’t sell Whoppers here. We don’t sell McChickens, Biggie Fries, Frosties, Grillburgers, McFlurries, McNuggets, Chicken Fries, Crossainwiches, McMuffins, McGriddles, or anything else that starts with “Mc” for that matter. You cannot Super-Size, King Size, or Biggie-Size our combos. We carry Coke, not Pepsi. We can’t give you fry sauce, onion ring sauce, or Horsey sauce. Corellary: Thou shalt not order the item we carried for about a month two years ago and act shocked that we can’t make it for you. We don’t even carry the ingredients for that anymore. No, not even if you ask nicely.
9) Thou shalt make sure you have cash or a credit card BEFORE thou order. Think hard for just a second, buddy - have you EVER heard of a drive-thru restaurant taking checks? I didn’t think so. Make sure you have the ability to pay for your order BEFORE you order it. Pulling up to the window and then “discovering” that you forgot your wallet won’t earn you any sympathy from those of us who just busted our asses to make your order and now have to throw it all out. And no, it WON’T get you any free food, either.
10) Thou shalt not, not, NOT, EVER, ask the clerk to “hook you up”. This is a business, not a charity. You want free food? Go to the food bank downtown. We’re in business to make money, not feed your broke ass. I don’t even know you. Why would I risk my job by giving away free food to a complete stranger? No, not if you give me a puff off your peace pipe. No, not if your girlfriend shows me her tits (and what kind of girl flashes a complete stranger for a 99-cent sandwich anyway?) No, not if you’re really good buddies with the manager or the area coach or Sally in Accounting, because right here and right now I AM the manager and i’ve never seen you before in my life.
Unbelievers, repent your sins and be saved. Anybody else got any commandments they’d like to throw in before I break out the chisel?