8 Polite Habits That Fast Food Employees Secretly Dislike

Making a fast-food faux pas is no fun! Here's a look at the most common habits you think are "polite", but fast food employees actually dislike—and what to do instead.

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McDonald's drive-thru
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Waiting at the Drive-Thru Window

There are many drive-thru habits fast food employees dislike and waiting at the window when you’re asked to pull to the side is one of them—here’s why.

It’s because most fast-food chains time employees to see how quickly they serve customers. If you’re asked to pull ahead, it’s because that timer is ticking! You might think it makes things easier to park and wait at the window instead, but they want to keep cars moving. Here are more secrets fast food employees aren’t telling you.

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Unidentified customer receiving hamburger and ice cream after order and buy it from McDonald's drive thru service
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Not Correcting a Mistake in the Order

Be as clear as possible when ordering so nothing gets lost in translation. The employee will repeat your order back to you, or you’ll be able to see it on a screen, so make sure everything is correct. It’s harder to fix once you get up to the window. This is especially important when you’re requesting a special order or something from the secret menu.

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Row of order desks with computer screen and card payment terminal in fast food restaurant
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Handing Over Extra Money

Your total is $17, so you give the cashier a $20 and two $1 bills, expecting a $5 in return. It makes things easier on your wallet so you’re not carrying extra bills, but it’s not always easy for fast food employees to add in that they’ve taken in extra cash—especially if they’re in a hurry. We bet you didn’t know these secrets about In-N-Out.

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McDonald's food.
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Creating “Clean Up” Trays or Baskets

It’s rude to leave bags and wrappers at your table when you’re eating at a fast-food restaurant. But separate the wrappers from the baskets and only throw away the actual trash.

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Sitting in the park and eat fast food
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Ordering for the Whole Office

While a kind act for your fellow workers, this is one of those ordering habits that fast food employees really dislike. Sure, you’re bringing in big business, but when you order lunch for 10 at a fast food drive-thru, it slows the whole line down. Instead, order inside the restaurant or better yet, call in an order in advance. Find the most popular regional fast-food spot in your state.

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Burger King restaurant at Dubai International Airport.
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Waiting at the Register for Condiments

If you’re at a fast food spot that has packets of ketchup or hot sauce, ask for them up front instead of standing near the register once you’ve already received your order. This keeps the line moving for everyone else and the employee behind the register won’t have to leave his or her station. See what fast-food chain is America’s favorite restaurant.

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Savings - Business person holding coins
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Paying With TONS of Change

You might think you’re doing the cashier a favor, but you probably aren’t. Paying in change can leave your register worker fumbling to count or give you change back, holding up the line. If you absolutely must, make it as easy as possible (using only quarters, for example) and not an assortment of change. We found the best fast food items for a dollar.

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Customer receiving order from McDonald's drive thru service
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Checking Your Drive-Thru Order

Don’t check your order at the window! Pull into a nearby parking spot to make sure you have everything you need. If something ends up being wrong with your food, however, it’s always OK to speak up. Don’t miss our list of the best new fast-food items this year!

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.