Things Nice People Already Know: Drive-Through Etiquette

Mamacita says:  Oh, I know. I’ve ranted about this before. But after waiting behind some old man in the pharmacy drive-through for maybe six days? until I gave up, parked, and went inside, I decided to rant about it again.  Or maybe it’s because I wasn’t able to get lunch all last week and this because the drive-through lines were so long and mainly full of families with all the time in the world who decided they were hungry right at prime-time working-people lunch times.

Yes, I should have packed a sandwich to eat on my 90 minute one-way commute, but I was counting on the milk of human kindness and common sense, neither of which was in evidence at the drive-throughs I had to pass by.

Drive-throughs are for convenience and SPEED, preferably both at once.  If you are using it only for your personal convenience,  I might be writing about you tonight.

Honest to boo, why is the concept of the drive-through so difficult for some people to comprehend? I don’t care if it’s a fast-food drive-through, the bank’s drive-through, the library drive-through, the pharmacy drive-through, or a bill-paying drive-through. Even those little islands at the post office where you drive up and drop your mail through the slot counts as a drive-through. And, every one of those drive-throughs has the same problem: some people don’t know how to use a drive-through.

Rule #1 – You are supposed to be ready before you pull up to the speaker. Sorry, kids, no changing-the-mind once the driver’s window is facing the speaker. Carved in stone. None of this pulling up to the speaker and THEN turning around to see what everybody wants. No, no, no, no, no. Period. Of course, if you’re the only car there, that’s different. It’s still rude, but at least you’re not trampling on anyone else’s time and patience. If you’re pulling up to the Post Office slot, don’t set the brake and commence writing checks and putting stamps on envelopes. Do that at home before you leave and have the whole pile ready to drop into the slot. Done right, you won’t even have to come to a full stop. The busy people behind you will love you. This holds true for the drive-in bank, too. Don’t pull up to the window and THEN start filling out deposit slips and signing checks. Do that before you leave the house, match everything together, and when you pull up to the window, smile at the harried teller who’s had to put up with all kinds of rude procrastinating customers today and hand her your completed bankwork. You’ll zip in and out in no time, and, again, the busy people behind you will try to describe you and your car to God when they’re at prayer that night, for extra blessings.

Rule #2 – No special orders at the drive-through window. They take longer and they hold up the line and that’s singularly unfair to the people behind you. If someone in your car must have mayonnaise and lettuce, hold the ketchup, you need to go inside. And if it’s rush hour, ie prime mealtime, you should just go home. A McDonald’s hamburger comes with certain things on it. If you don’t like McDonald’s hamburgers, go somewhere else. Or come back when there’s nobody in line.

Rule #3 – If it’s a work day for most people, and you’re off for whatever reason, don’t pile the kids in the van and go eat in a busy restaurant during prime lunch time. You’ve got all day, but the people behind you, frantically checking their watches, only have about twenty minutes. Step aside. If you’re not working that day, take the kids to lunch after prime lunch time is over. Working people with short lunch times will thank you, and what difference does it make if your kids’ nap and lunch time are a little weird a time or two a week? When I was home with my kids, I would NEVER have taken them to eat right when all the busy working people needed that time. I waited until after their rush was over. Inside or drive-through: let the people who have the least time go first.

Rule #4 – Don’t abuse the drive-through window. If you’re picking up prescription medicine at the pharmacy window, don’t ask the pharmacist to please run clear to the other side of the store and grab a gallon of 2% milk for you. Go inside.

Rule #5 – Most of these rules apply only to those busiest times of the day. If you’re pulling up to the drive-through at 2:30, a.m. or p.m., chances are there’s nobody waiting behind you. Do whatever you want.

Rule #6 – Because I said so. And, because it’s just basic human decency. Good manners. Etiquette. That’s why.

Rule #7 – If I’m in a drive-through line at 12:30 p.m., and that’s you in front of me with the four special burger orders, the Happy Meal Toy special requests, the french fries with no salt, and the chocolate shake split into five small cups, I probably loathe you. And rightfully so.

And now I’m hungry. It’s ten thirty p.m. so there probably won’t be a line. Not that it matters, because I NEVER go through the drive-through with a special order, even at ten thirty. The person behind me might really need to get somewhere.

As for the special orders, I do have one when we go to Burger King, but if it’s prime time I just suck it up. Because I have manners, and consideration for busy working people with short lunch times, and did I mention basic good MANNERS?

These are such small things to make so many people happy. And if you’re sitting there reading this all in a huff and thinking, “WELL. I’ll have her know that a drive-through is there for MY convenience!” then you’re probably a person in need of some drive-through etiquette.

P.S. If you’re in Indiana, where people are still allowed to stink up the whole place and give innocent people lung cancer smoke in restaurants, have the decency to NOT plop your fine self down beside or near children and present yourself as a bad example of humanity where they have to breathe in your stench.

P.P.S. The old guy who had decided to pitch a tent and live at the drive-through window was STILL THERE when I was leaving the parking lot. He had waited until it was his turn and everybody was waiting for him, to hunt through his wallet and his pockets for all of his insurance cards, checkbook, discount tag, coupon, etc. And yes, it took him that long to locate everything. Was he a sweet old man who was just confused? No. He was a rude beast. He should have been ready before he pulled up to the window, and when he realized he was going to be a while, he should have gone inside.

As nice, polite people do.


Things Nice People Already Know: Drive-Through Etiquette — 2 Comments

  1. I totally agree with all your points. I will add I do not believe a pharmacy drive through should even exist. Way too many variables that take up too much time. I also do not think fast food places should be in the toy market. Give me a freaking break. They are junky, plastic, cheap toys and parents get so specific about which one little Johnny needs. It makes me crazy. As a full-time worker I thank you for pointing out that stay at home parents with kids and retired people should not be on the roads or in drive throughs at busy times.

  2. Drive throughs are so uniquely American and to the rest of the world make little sense. Rush, rush, eat, eat. Not healthy at all. I enjoy getting out of my car, walking to get some exercise and having more control over what I experience. If I’m in a hurry, I don’t stop at all, especially at a drive through, which, as you’ve noticed, can be anything but fast.

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