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8 Worst Things Drive-Thru Customers Do, According to Workers

Already under stress, drive-thru workers get way too much grief.

If you think working at a fast-food restaurant is easy, then clearly you have never worked at a fast-food restaurant. The range of responsibilities any given team member may be required to master, the frenzied pace, the boiling fry stations and steaming griddles, and the perennially broken ice cream machines all add up to make fast-food work high-intensity work indeed.

And one of the hardest jobs to work at a fast-food joint is the drive-thru. A Reddit user named nim2300 put it well when saying it like this: "Working fast food is one of the hardest jobs … In [the] drive-thru, people are managing about three different conversations at once, talking to the customer placing the order, taking money from the customer at the window, and talking to their co-workers all at, quite literally, the exact same time."

Given all the stress and frenzy already incumbent on that drive-thru worker, it's a shame that they're also so often mistreated by customers, but it happens all the time, as we found out time and time again.

Here are a few of the worst things fast-food customers do to those poor, long-suffering stewards of the drive-thru.

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Pulling up without a clue

drive thru menu ordering

"Um… I'll have… let's see… maybe the…." As hard as it is to imagine given the familiarity of most fast-food menus, not to mention the fact that they are emblazoned on huge signs set up in the drive-thru line, but according to Tik Tok users with drive-thru experience, it's all too common for cars to arrive at the microphone driven by people who are far from arriving at a decision on what to order.

Threats of violence—or actual violence

drive thru menu

At the time of this writing, in just the past few months alone, multiple customers at fast-food drive-thru lines have pulled guns on the worker at the window. It happened at a Dunkin' in Macon, GA, per WGXA. It happened at a McDonald's in Memphis, TN, per FOX13.  It happened in Akron, OH, per News5, and overall, these threats happen all the time. And sometimes they turn into actual assaults, too.


woman in drive thru shocked
Jacaranda FM / Twitter

If you want a few genuinely funny and harmless moments and a whole boatload of mean-spirited jerks, Google the words "drive-thru pranks" and click on the video results. From people throwing beverages at drive-thru employees to deafening them with extra-loud horns to wearing odd or frightening makeup, most drive-thru pranks make the workers the butt of a joke at which they are rarely the ones laughing.

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Sheer impatience

impatient customer

We get it, people use the drive-thru line because they are looking for a maximally efficient way to get their food and/or beverages and get on with the day, but being in a rush is no excuse for impatience with others. One commenter on Tik Tok bemoaned these types of customers, saying: "They just pull up and your [sic] doing something and they just scream hello hello until you answer." Another added: "When you say 'give me one moment' and then they start yelling their order at you."

Two orders, one car

big drive thru order

Reddit users who had drive-thru experience called out one of the most frustrating things drive-thru customers can do, and it's placing more than one order from a single vehicle. It means processing two totally different checks, from the order to the cooking to the payment and delivery, all of which is supposed to be done at the same time despite the system not being designed as such. If you need to make two (or three or more) separate orders, you need to go inside.

Customers who try to gaslight

taco bell workers

According to a Tik Tokker whose video on drive-thru customers went viral in August of 2022, one of the worst types of customers is the person who claims an error was made to his or her order when it verifiably was not. Whether these people don't want to admit they changed their minds or they are trying to get free food, they play a twisted head game with a very busy employee when they make their claims.

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The drunk drivers

late night drive thru

Far too many people are headed out for fast food when they should be headed to bed, it turns out. Multiple drive-thru workers sharing in a Reddit thread had stories of drunk people making scenes in the drive-thru line, including one man who threw beverages at and then rammed another customer's car (he was arrested) and another who drove clear through the freestanding menu display.

The slow payer

drive thru payment

The drive-thru is all about efficiency, both for the customer and, of course, for the business. Employees working the drive-thru are timed and can get in trouble if orders take too long to process, but there's little a worker can do when someone slowly fumbles about to find their wallet, retrieve a credit card or cash, and then moseys on along once the transaction is done. But according to comments on Tik Tok, slow payers roll through all the time, as do people who take ages to check their order before moving on.

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven
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