The Etiquette Rule You Need If You're Forgetful At The Drive-Thru

Just as dining at a restaurant comes with its own set of etiquette, so does ordering at a drive-thru. A crucial rule is knowing how to handle forgetfulness properly. For example, if you forget to add a second burger combo to your order, the solution is not to block the entire drive-thru while discussing it with the employees at the pick-up window. This disrupts the kitchen's workflow and delays the line behind you.

Similarly, you shouldn't try to correct the order by returning to the order box or pay window — especially not on foot. This is unsafe for a number of reasons, including the absence of a pedestrian lane, and the risk of navigating through moving cars.

Instead, if you realize at the pick-up window that you've forgotten to order something more significant than a dipping sauce, the best course of action is to find a parking spot and go inside the restaurant. This way, you can explain the situation to an employee without holding up the line, or putting anyone in danger.

Try to order quickly and politely

Sure, drive-thru lanes have menu boards, but spending a lot of time examining the menu is considered bad drive-thru etiquette. In a drive-thru, every second counts, and your extensive perusal of the menu can disrupt the flow — in addition to frustrating the drivers waiting in line behind you.

If you have a question about a menu item, , be polite and communicate your inquiry quickly and clearly to the employee taking your order. Longer wait times can reflect poorly on the employee, regardless of whether they're solely responsible for the delay. As such, if you need more time to review the menu or have additional questions, it's best to park and go inside.

That being said, if the drive-thru is not busy and there are no people waiting behind you, feel free to ask the employee taking orders for a moment to consider your options. This approach allows you to organize your thoughts and order more efficiently, which is a win for everyone involved.

Treat drive-thru employees with respect

Another important aspect of drive-thru etiquette is to always treat employees with respect by giving them your full attention. In other words,  you shouldn't be on the phone or engaged in a conversation with your passengers, nor should you have your music blasting or be smoking.

When ordering from a secret menu, don't expect employees to always be familiar with the item you're referencing. Making such requests is particularly inappropriate when the drive-thru is busy, as you might need to explain how to prepare the secret menu item. Again, this action can delay the line and potentially impact an employee's performance rating.

Lastly, understand that employees may be required to promote certain menu items, so allow them to do so. You're not obligated to order these items. On a similar note, express gratitude to employees for repeating your order before you drive forward to pay; they're only confirming that they've recorded it accurately. Truly, a little bit of respect goes a long way.