5 Things to Never Do in a Drive-Through

I’ve been working in the food and service industry for about three years now. Two of those have been spent working in a drive-through at Starbucks. In fact, operating the drive-through by myself (taking orders, collecting payments, handing orders out, and making connections with customers at the same time) was one of my favorite positions as a barista.

However, there are several things that people do in a drive-through (either at Starbucks or elsewhere) that can really make it hard for your local food and service workers to do their job.

1. Ordering huge orders

If you have a large order (drinks and food for more than 4 people) please, please, please, come inside or call ahead. Large orders take a lot of time, and while we’re happy to serve you, it’s difficult for your baristas to make your order in a timely fashion. A lot of places have a goal the employees need to meet for their window times (how long a customer has been sitting at the window), and a six Frappuccino order makes it difficult to get you in and out under 40 seconds.

Large orders are also rude to the person behind you, who only ordered a Grande Americano or is there to pick up a mobile order. Now they also have to wait at least five minutes for their beverages.

All in all, if you call ahead (or use the mobile app), it saves you and our other guests a bunch of time, and it saves us our window goals.

2. Smoking

I understand why people smoke. It’s your life and I won’t tell you how to live it, but please don’t smoke (or use E-Cigarettes) in a drive-through. This is another thing that’s both rude to your barista and the people behind you.

There are very few people who like the smell of cigarettes, and for some, it can trigger asthma attacks. By smoking in the drive-through, you subject everyone around you to the smell and run the risk of triggering someone’s asthma.

For me personally, when I notice someone is smoking, I have to ask someone else to answer the window for me so that I can continue to breathe for the rest of my shift.

(Please keep in mind that a Starbucks employee can ask you to refrain from smoking and vaping within 30 feet of the building)

3. Littering

We try our hardest to keep our store and the grounds around it beautiful. When you litter or dump your old drinks in our drive-through, it makes our jobs to keep the drive-through clean a lot harder. Often times, the trash we aren’t able to get to on time blows away and can be harmful to the environment.

Please be courteous to others around you and the planet we all live on. We only have one.

4. Loud calls or music at the ordering box.

We live in an incredible age of technology, there’s no doubt about that. I personally really enjoy the fact that I can hook up my phone to my car using Bluetooth and play my own music or make calls through my car, however, it’s really rude to do so at the Order Box.

Those boxes are designed to amplify certain types of noises so that we’re able to hear our customers better. Unfortunately, they can’t tell the difference between a human voice and your music, or the person on the phone in your car. When you come through our drive-through, please turn your music and calls down so we can hear you.

If your phone call requires your immediate attention, you’re welcome to finish the call in our parking lot and then order in our drive-through. Please don’t sit at the Ordering Box with your window rolled up to finish your call. This can also make it hard for other costumers to order as well.

5. Texting while reaching for your drink

We try our hardest to make sure you have the best experience at our stores. As a company, we’re very aware that our business starts with you, so we try to make every moment right. However, this can be a challenge if you’re preoccupied with your device. It’s just plain rude to not even look at the drink as we’re trying to hand it to you, and it can be dangerous.

If you miss the drink or if we fail to make sure you have a hold on the beverage, it could fall and spill all over your lap and in the car. This could be especially dangerous if your beverage is hot. If this does happen, it also takes up time for the people behind you while we help you clean up and remake your drink.

I can’t speak for all fast food places, but Starbucks baristas are trained to be pleasant and thoughtful while providing the best experience possible. If our customers were to try to be the same way, your experience would be a lot better and the experience would be easier for us all.