Greeted a DT customer with “Welcome to Seattle” cause it was on my mind. Guess it’s better than the time I welcomed a lady to Oatmeal.


Pro Tip

Job hunting tip of the day: Don’t ask for (or turn in) an application in the drive-thru.

Drive-Thru Etiquette, Part Two

Welcome back, dear students. Today we continue our lesson in Drive-Thru Etiquette, a Handy Reference Guide. I encourage you to reference the legend in the original post should you need any reminders.

Let’s talk about the DT lane itself. Though they come in various shapes, lengths, and landscaping designs, here are a few driving rules that always hold true:

  1. The DT lane is not a “thru street”. It is intended only for patrons of the store. Please do not use as a short-cut to Arby’s.
  2. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE is it ever advised to put your car in reverse once you have committed to the lane.
  3. When approaching the DT window, please aim your car slightly left of center. My arms cannot reach your window if you are in the middle. And I have long arms.
  4. Should you be involved in an accident in the DT lane, kindly move your car into the parking lot. I cannot conduct business if you remain parked in my lane.

Rules of the Window

  1. I am not an ATM, so please do not thrust your money at me if you are not even looking in my direction. Chances are I will leave your arm there to wilt until I feel like taking your money.
  2. If you are parked more than two feet from the window, it is appreciated if you make an effort to reach out and “meet me in the middle” (see above rules on DT Lane Driving). Not everyone is as tall as me and these long reaches out the window can be physically difficult for our shorter and/or pregnant employees.
  3. If you see me holding your drink or money out the window, kindly do not make me wait for an extended time in this position while you organize your center console or gather vehicle trash.

Inclement Weather

  1. I cannot hear your order through a closed or barely-cracked window.
  2. Nobody likes to be cold and/or wet. Please do not become irritable at me as if I am the cause of the rain coming through your window. After all, you did opt to go through the DT.
  3. When you arrive at my window, please turn your windshield wipers OFF. With every swipe, they swoosh water into my face. This is unpleasant.
  4. Should road conditions become icy near your home, chances are your neighborhood DT lane is icy as well. Do not be surprised at this. It is recommended that you make coffee at home on these mornings, though, should you venture out, I will be faithfully manning the DT window.


  1. Should you arrive at my SB and proceed to order two-dozen donuts and inform me of your free coupon, do not become upset when I gently inform you that you are NOT at Krispy Kreme. Do not argue with me that I am Krispy Kreme. Do not tell me that Krispy Kreme used to be in this location and must have “just moved” to the building next door. Do not become hostile and ask me why I don’t have donuts. Do not become exceedingly agitated with me if I politely ask you if you would like a cup of coffee before you drive over to Krispy Kreme. And, WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t put your car in reverse and slam on the gas (see above rules). You will back into the car behind you and further embarrass yourself.

That’s it for today. Until next time, may all your DT encounters be pleasant, speedy, and accident-free.

Drive-Thru Etiquette, a Handy Reference Guide

As promised, here is the first installment of Drive-Thru Etiquette, a Handy Reference Guide. The following recommendations are based on my true experiences as an employee working a drive-thru window and should be taken with a grain of salt, a wedge of lime, and a shot of espresso.

Please use the following legend to assist you as you browse this guide:

DT (Drive-Thru Window)
SB (Speaker Box, where the order is placed)
SW (Second Window, a nonexistent place I will ask you to pull forward to if you annoy me)
CCT (Customer Courtesy Tip)
EXR (Extraordinairly Rude Customer)

Smile, You’re on Camera

  1. FYI – Most DT’s have tiny cameras located at the SB. Don’t be creeped out – those cameras are invaluable in aiding the order-taking process. After all, it comes in handy to read lips when you get customers who mumble, order through cracked windows, or insist on leaving their diesel engines running.
  2. Having said that, when you are at the SB, don’t mock me, pick your nose, make faces, put up your finger to “shhss!” me, or otherwise act inappropriately. I can see you.

Wait Times

  1. If you are in a tremendous hurry, you probably do not have time to stop for coffee, so please don’t yell at me BEFORE I’VE EVEN SAID HELLO to tell me you are in a rush. Trust me, I want you out of my hair as quickly as possible.
  2. CCT #1- Please do not add to your order at the window if there is a long line of cars behind you. This increases the wait time of everyone behind you by minimum of sixty seconds and we all know that can feel like an eternity when you haven’t had your coffee.
  3. EXR – Please do not be irked at my speed of service when it’s not my fault that the three cars in front of you did not follow CCT #1.
  4. CCT #2 – Do not lollygag at the SB while cars stack up behind you. Ham? Bacon? Be decisive and move on.
  5. CCT #3 – Once you have placed your order at the SB, please pull up behind the next car in line. When you linger after you place an order and block the SB, I can’t expedite orders for the people behind you.

Medical Emergencies

  1. If your passenger is experiencing a possible stroke or heart attack, you should resist the urge to stop through the DT for coffee and instead proceed to the nearest ER.
  2. If you, against better judgement, stop for coffee anyway, please do not tell me I need to hurry because your passenger is having said medical emergency.
  3. If you discover an injured wild owl in your backyard and you are en-route to the zoo, you have no business stopping for hot chocolate. You probably have no business transporting the owl, either, but that’s not my department.

Let’s Talk

  1. You should always expect a friendly greeting when you pull up to the SB. We do not hire out prisoners in India to greet you nor do we use recordings. We are live people, inside the building before you, with very real feelings. Please do not cut me off while I am speaking. It is rude.
  2. Dear customer, please do not be agitated with me or cut me off when I am offering you a drink special or pastry pairing. It is my JOB to suggest add-ons for your order. A polite decline is all that’s required.
  3. Do not ask me how I am doing and then proceed to bark orders without giving me a chance to respond. We all know the “how are you’s” are just a formality, but it’s still polite to let the other person answer.
  4. For those of you who ask how we’re doing and give us the chance to respond, thank you for your genuine kindness. It is always appreciated.

I don’t want to overload you with information, so we’ll end today’s lesson here. Thank you for taking the time to read and learn. We appreciate your business.

People Just Don’t Listen

Here’s my typical greeting at the DT speaker: “Hi! Welcome to Coffee Shop! My name is Carrie! Can I get you a ——–?!” I say this minimum hundred times per shift.

As you might guess, I get tired of suggesting Tea Infusions, Hot Sandwiches, and Caramel Macchiatos, so every once in a while I like to switch it up, you know, play with folks a bit. The trouble is, people are so trained to ignore the first words out of my mouth that most of the time they don’t even register what I say (unless I am using a strange tone of voice, which I also like to do sometimes).

In honor of the impending severe weather warnings today, I suggested an “Iced Venti Hail Storm” to a customer. What did she say? “Um, no, I’d like a two-pump nonfat mocha with six splendas. Grande.”

To another, “Would you like to try our new Tornado Tea Infusion?” In reply, “I don’t think so…”

So, here’s the moral of the story and lesson #1 in DT etiquette: Next time you roll into a DT, pause and listen to the person. They may be dull, monotone, and hating their jobs, or, they may be overly perky and obnoxious. Either way, don’t ignore them. It’s not nice.

Stay tuned to future posts for my Official Drive Thru Etiquette Guide. It’s sure to be educational and annoying!

Thanks for the Tip

Yesterday I was making a drink for a customer at the drive-thru window. As she was telling me what a treat it is for her to come to Starbucks, she dropped a couple of bills in the tip jar. Very generous.

I thanked her and she replied that because we “give her what she wants,” she doesn’t mind tipping for it. She said her husband (who was not with her at the time) doesn’t share her generosity. “He just doesn’t understand: If he gave me what I wanted, I would tip him, too.”