How Not To Be The Drive-Thru Customer Everyone Hates

As restaurants across the U.S. transition to takeout or delivery amid the coronavirus outbreak, here's how to improve your drive-thru etiquette.

Since some U.S. states and cities are shuttering sit-down restaurants and bars to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, lines at drive-thrus might get long.

Since everyone is in the same boat ― though in different cars ― it’s imperative to practice courtesy and efficiency to keep things running smoothly.

Here are some tips to keep you from being “that person” in the drive-thru, courtesy of Reader’s Digest and WikiHow:

  • Know what you want to order in advance. Don’t spend a lot of time at the order window hemming and hawing over whether you want a burger or chicken sandwich. The people behind you are hungry, too.
  • When you’re placing your order, speak clearly. Drive-thru intercoms have notoriously bad audio and repeats of “I want a cheese Danish” is probably the last thing the person behind you wants to keep hearing.
  • Turn off your radio or music when ordering to ensure employees can hear your order clearly.
  • When it’s time to move to the checkout window, don’t dilly-dally. And make sure you are close enough to the window so you don’t waste time getting out of the car to reach your food.
  • Don’t suddenly decide to change your order at the window. That’s going to force the restaurant employees to start everything over and slow things down.
  • If you’re ordering a big spread for lots of people, don’t make your cashier deal with multiple payment cards. You can split up the bill with your other dining partners later. That’s what Venmo is for.
  • Make sure to have your method of payment ready so you don’t have to fumble around in a pocket or purse looking for cash or a credit card.
  • If it’s raining, turn off your windshield wipers at the window. Splashing the person serving you isn’t cool.
  • If you’re ordering drinks, clear out your cup holder in advance.
  • Mistakes will happen, so be patient with restaurant employees if anything goes amiss. Remember, they’re working so that you can go home and self-quarantine.

If time is of the essence, the fastest drive-thru chains, according to QSR Magazine, are in order: Dunkin’, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr., KFC, Arby’s, Hardee’s, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A.

And so you know, if you’re picking up food from a national chain, The New York Times points out there’s a good chance the person serving you doesn’t get paid sick leave if they come down with an illness. That means employees might choose to go to work sick, and your idea of picking up food from a drive-thru may not insulate you from catching what they have.