Overly Polite Gestures That Drive Fast-Food Employees Crazy

Fast Food Polite

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Fast Food Polite
Cheapism / NewSaetiew/jessicaphoto/istockphoto

Don't Overdo It

Anyone who has worked a service industry job knows that the days and hours can sometimes feel endless. The hours feel even longer when you have to deal with demanding customers who can’t be bothered to treat you as a human. Other times, you may encounter customers who seem to go out of their way with artificial niceties, which however well-intentioned, wind up making your job more difficult. 

Read on for seemingly polite gestures that could potentially backfire and ultimately draw the ire of the fast-food employees taking your order.

Related: Chipotle Employees Dish on How Customers Can Make Their Jobs Easier

Man, burger and fast food kitchen worker at counter with gloves, cooking and uniform at small business. Restaurant, sandwich and cook with hamburger patty stack for lunch service with take away.
Kobus Louw/istockphoto

1. You’re Too Nice To Correct A Mistake Early

If you feel slightly anxious placing your order at a busy fast-food counter, you're not alone. You're worried about holding up the line. You see the look of exhaustion on the face of the fast-food employee across the counter. Maybe you end up misfiring on your intended order. Or perhaps you see on the receipt that the employee misheard you. It happens to the best of us. 

But speaking up promptly (and politely) is key to avoiding an unnecessary hassle for everyone involved. Waiting until you've received your order and then asking for a fix or replacement will only frustrate the employee who took your order and the person who has to remake it. Plus it wastes everyone's time, including your own. And nobody wants a meal (re)made in anger.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Alexander Farnsworth/istockphoto
McDonald's Fast Food

3. Paying With Mounds Of Change

There was a time when paying in exact change might have made it easier for those working the register to avoid making change. You might see folks from older generations continue to do this to the chagrin of the younger folks. But the fast-food employee who has to count out that change during a lunch rush won't be thrilled. It can really slow down the line. So, try to avoid dumping out mounds of change as payment if possible. 

Related: McDonald's Employees Share Their Favorite Break Meals

Focus on the Drive-Thru of a Chick-fil-A Restaurant, Indianapolis, Indiana with Several Cars in a Line

4. Leisurely Checking Your Order in the Drive-Thru Line

Oh boy, if you really want to upset a fast-food employee and everyone in line behind you, just pull this "polite" gesture. Stopping to count items and check that your meal came out in tip-top shape while still at the drive-thru window isn't doing anyone any favors. On the off-chance that something is wrong with your order, you can always pull over after you've left the drive-thru line and run back in for a fix. 

Related: Starbucks Baristas Reveal 7 Obnoxious Drive-Thru Behaviors

I would like to have a hamburger

5. Letting People Pass While You Decide Your Order

This is equivalent to someone driving extremely cautious and slow on the road like a steel turtle that frustrates the drivers behind them. Standing in line and fumbling to decide on an order while waving hungry customers ahead of you is polite to a degree, but it can also disrupt the flow of the restaurant. Just figure out your order before you decide to step into the line. You'll do everyone else a huge favor. 

Related: Fast-Food Face-Off: Which Chains Have the Best Food?

Businesswoman working at laptop with fast food on restaurant table

6. Calling Employees By Their First Names

This is an example of forcing familiarity with a complete stranger who is just trying to do their job and get onto the next customer. Now, if you've become a regular and have your go-to person on staff that you genuinely have fostered a connection with, that's different. Otherwise though, just because a fast-food employee is forced to wear a nametag, doesn't mean they necessarily appreciate being called by their first name. This rings especially true if you're calling them by their first name while also being a blatantly rude customer. Just don't do it. 

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Checkout Server Serving Young Woman Customer Ordering at Fast Food Restaurant

7. Holding Up The Line To Make Small Talk

If you've mastered the art of small talk, good for you. It seems to be more of a rarity these days with so many people keeping their eyes glued to their smartphones. But making small talk with fast-food employees is another example of a behavior that might be thought of as personable, but is usually more of a nusiance. You're usually only slowing down the flow of business. Plus, the employee might feel the added pressure to maintain the artificial smile and interest on their end, while they're only getting more stressed. Do them a favor and save your small talk for other situations. 

Related: Don't Forget the Ketchup: 8 Drive-Thru Mistakes You're Probably Making