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stories from the drive through

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Last night after getting off work after 9p and having not eaten I went to BK - a rarity for me as I probably eat fast food no more than 4 times a year. Anyway there were 4 cars ahead of me in the line, it was 5 minutes before I could order (shout through an intercom system, repeat order 3 times) and then I waited and waited and waited. The line moved at a snail's pace. I wanted to quit and go home for a sandwich but of course I was stuck with cars in front and behind.

Eventually I got to the window, there was one cook, and one server who was doing the window, the orders, the cash, the drinks AND the in-house orders and payments. The whole wait was 17 minutes which I think was way too long for a 'fast food' place.

What else bugs you at the drive thru? How often do you get the wrong order, incomplete order? This is not about whether we like or abhor BK, McD's etc but what can and does go wrong.

  1. Years ago, I solved the problem you experienced. I don't do drive-thru.

    7 Replies
    1. re: RedTop

      Similarly, I won't go to a drive through unless the line is 2 cars or fewer. And even then, I'd rather go in, better chance they get the order right that way

      1. re: L2k

        ah well the problem here was the way the drive through is built - when I got to the drive thru there was only one car at the order microphone - what I didn't know was that there were 3 cars around the corner. Clever design eh?

        1. re: smartie

          Very clever, Most of these places have an orbit that defies judgment observation beyond the point of no return.

      2. re: RedTop

        My New Year Resolution in 2006 was to not do drive through. I have kept that one.

        I laugh when I see 7 cars at the Starbucks..and wonder why everyone complains about high fuel prices...

        I laugh more when I am walking out and the car that went into line when I was parking is still in the line while I am walking back to my car with my purchase.

        1. re: RedTop

          I tried that approach, but whenever I do that the cashiers are spending all their time doing takeout orders and it actually takes 2-3x as long inside. The last time I went to McDonald's for breakfast, I went inside and waited about 35 minutes from the time I walked in until I got my food because only one out of every five orders coming out of the kitchen was for parties eating in. I think 25 of those minutes were after I ordered, and even then I saw a few people walking out because they were tired of waiting.

          1. re: queencru

            Sounds like you picked the wrong McDonalds, queencru. Was the manager dead?

            1. re: RedTop

              I have no clue, but it was really not different from the problems I've experienced in many places when I choose to go inside and carry out instead of going through the drive through. This was just such a big store that the problems ended up getting magnified because there were more people ahead of you in line waiting to get food. I will not be going to that one ever again.

        2. I've found most of the drive-thrus and fast food restaurants run a bare-bones staff later in the evening. In fact, the McDonalds a block from my work doesn't even use the speaker after 9, you have to pull up to the window to order. Not a big deal, I just make sure I think hard about how hungry I am.

          1. I do Wendy's drive-thru occasionally due to their close proximity to my office. I always get the chicken BLT salad and ask for ranch dressing... its a crap shoot with the dressing- 50% of the time I get ranch, the other times I get honey mustard (which i detest) which is the standard with that salad.

            1. Back when I worked the Drive-thru (does that make me sound old?) we had contests to see who was the fastest & most accurate. Times have changed! (definitely old!)

              What bugged me from the worker standpoint is when people would park too far away from the window so I had to climb thru the window to hand food over or get money. Friday nights late were always a riot due to the characters that came thru.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jenscats5

                Your last sentence reminded me of a story when I was working late night McDonald's drive through back when I was in high school. Four guys in a car pull up and ordered food, but as part of their order they ask for four waters... however, they wanted one of the waters to have vinegar/salt/etc in it to make it disgusting. They wanted all 4 to look the exact same from the outside so they can play water roulette or something. I feel bad for whichever one got the disgusting one! Suprisingly, they seemed completey sober (at least the driver did).

                1. re: kwjd

                  Water roulette! That's interesting....

                2. re: jenscats5

                  I did the same through high school. I don't think people realize they're saying, "Hamburger, no pickles, large fries and a coke" and we were hearing, "Shhhchchhh- ger. no sshhhhchles, lar-shshchh-ies, and a shhchhhk." The intercoms were terrible. My baby monitor on the wrong channel was clearer than that and don't forget there's a restaurant full of people cooking, yelling, etc. behind you.

                  When I worked there, though, we were often timed. Two minutes to get people out of the drive-thru. If the order wasn't ready, you were supposed to send them to park and bring it out to them, rain, blizzaard, whatever. All for $2.15 an hour. People on CH are so sympathetic to waiters/waitresses but sometimes don't seem to be as sympathetic to the workers at other food places. If someone were to complain about service at a restaurant, you'd get a ton of responses about how hard it is to be a server, how little they're paid, etc.

                3. I don't eat fast food anymore but back when I was a teenager growing up in southern CA, I loved doing drive thrus, esp at In N Out Burgers. My pet peeve aside from the sub-par intercom system was having the driver immediately in front of me (and it was ALWAYS the driver immediately front of me) ordering lunch for his/her entire office. It would take ages and then finally you would see the server handing out bag after bag of food and just when you thought they were done, the server would start handing out the trays of drinks. Of course that would cause an even further delay because inevitably, the driver (who was ALWAYS alone) then had to figure out how to store/stack all the drinks without spilling them. Always wondered how they got everything out of the car and back to the office.