Drive-Thru Etiquette

4c. Those on the other end of the loudspeaker should not scream, either. It is a loudspeaker. I can hear you. “CAN I HELP YOU MA’AM WOULD YOU LIKE A STUFFED CHEESE THING WITH JALEPENOS AT 8 AM WITH YOUR DOUBLE LATTE?!!!” No, thanks, I’ll take the hearing aid/migraine medication combo meal, with a glass of chardonnay, please.

For those of you so massively and completely impaired that this most basic of American pastimes, getting unhealthy food from the drive-thru, is beyond you, we here at First Draft have drawn up this handy guide. We’re writers, and we need our morning coffee, and if you’d be so kind as to follow these instructions and get out of our way, we’d spend less time wedged sideways in the concrete tunnel beside the Dunkin’ Donuts and more time posting stuff here.

1. Never take an unfamiliar car to the drive-thru. If you do not know the turning radius of your vehicle, and cannot accurately judge whether you can fit into the designated space next to the menu without hitting the loudspeaker, other cars, people crossing the parking lot, small children, flying squirrels and Ronald McDonald, we suggest you spend some time doing donuts on a deserted field and measuring the tracks to determine precisely how far you can turn, and how fast.

2. When turning into the drive-thru lane, if another car is also waiting to turn, from a different direction, but has been sitting there for 20 minutes with her blinker on patiently waiting, you cannot, simply because you are turning right and she is turning left, plow ahead of her. First Draft estimates that 90 percent of all traffic jams at drive-thrus could be alleviated if people simply allowed one person to go in front of them, and then they follow, and repeat, rather than jockeying for position in a manner that reminds one of a high school dicksizing contest.

3. We are willing to concede that you do not always know precisely what you want when you get to the drive thru. However, a reasonable amount of time to scan the brightly colored pictures of the food you might want and their corresponding numbers is a few minutes, not half an hour. You are also not allowed to wonder, loudly, what you should get if you don’t want the other drivers in line to start shouting out suggestions.

4. Do not scream into the loudspeaker. Do. Not. Scream. Into. The. Loudspeaker. It is not necessary to make sure the whole line sees that you are ordering the 10-taco deal with extra lard on the side, or that you are requesting your Big Mac rare, with only a “smattering” of sauce and lettuce.

4b. What in the name of the Little Baby Jesus are you doing placing a complicated special order at the drive-thru anyway? Go inside. Go. Inside. It’s a drive-thru. Say the number of the prepackaged thing you want, get it, and go. You want to converse with the cashier over the art and craft of making nachos? Go take a cooking class.

4c. Those on the other end of the loudspeaker should not scream, either. It is a loudspeaker. I can hear you. “CAN I HELP YOU MA’AM WOULD YOU LIKE A STUFFED CHEESE THING WITH JALEPENOS AT 8 AM WITH YOUR DOUBLE LATTE?!!!” No, thanks, I’ll take the hearing aid/migraine medication combo meal, with a glass of chardonnay, please.

5. However impatient you and I may be getting we may not honk. It is not our fault the fries are taking a few minutes. It is not our fault the shake machine is broken. It is not our fault the staff inside the DD is apparently growing and roasting the coffee in the back while we wait. Honking gets you nothing; on bad days it gets you the finger. On really bad days my car’s reverse gear still works in the drive-thru, you nitwit.

6. After you receive your food and change, kindly pull forward a bit while you arrange the soda just so in the cupholder, neatly count and fold your bills and coins, hand out hamburgers to the shrieking ankle-biters in the backseat, and do your hair. Do not expect me to wait for your toilette to be completed. I won’t honk, but I will put the front of my compact through the back of your minivan. That coffee is sitting there, right on the counter, and I can’t GET TO IT because you’re sitting there, making sure you have 23 cents instead of say, 22, or horror of horrors, 21. I will give you a whole quarter to get out of my way, or hand the coffee back to me.

7. Do not, under any circumstances, try to back out of the drive-thru, angrily gesturing to people behing you (at least six, judging by this morning’s experience) that they should all back up, too. You drive forward. If you don’t have enough money, just explain and apologize at the window, don’t take the food, and drive forward. Backing up and flipping me off will not cause me to back up. It will cause you to back into me, which is fine, because I can use all the money your insurance company will give me.

And last but not least, barring emergencies, get the hell off your cell phone in the drive-thru. It’s seriously rude to the clerks who have to serve us, all of us, even you obnoxious assholes who are honking and backing up.

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