13 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 friendly mistakes—and what to do instead.
Using their first names
This probably varies by employee and some might indeed see it as polite, but former Carl's Jr. and Pizza Hut employee James Cobb, RN, MSN, says that it just made him kind of uncomfortable. "It's forced familiarity. We haven't been introduced," he says. Yes, fast food employees usually do wear name tags, but sometimes it can be unnerving to hear a stranger addressing you by your first name as if they know you personally. In Cobb's view, "first names are reserved for friends and acquaintances; not strangers." (It also can be a little different if a server tells you their name, as at a sit-down restaurant, as opposed to a situation where you're just ordering from someone who has a name tag on.) No matter what restaurant you're at, make sure you avoid these things polite people don't do.
Making small talk with your fast food cashier might seem like a nice thing to do, but some questions can definitely bug them—especially ones that they hear over and over again. For Cobb, one of the most annoying had to do with the badges that he once had to wear for a Carl's Jr. promo, ones that said "I believe in old fashioned values." "Customers would ask me, 'What old fashioned values do you believe in?'" he remembers, admitting that he felt put on the spot and had no idea how to respond. "Do you give them a glib answer?...Do you go sincere? Do you tell them the company was making you wear it?" he would wonder. "I realize the customer was trying to be nice and make conversation, but [the restaurant] had a certain script for us to use with the customer and that just didn't fit."
Overstuffing the trash can
Understandably, you think you're doing a good thing by putting your trash in, you know, the trash can rather than leaving it on the table for an employee to pick up. And, usually, this would be true. But not when the garbage is already full to bursting, says Becky Beach, food blogger and former employee of Taco Bueno. "When the trash can was full, all the overflowing trash stuck in the door would fall to the floor," she remembers. "If there was food or salsa that fell, I had to mop the floor." And mopping the floor is a lot more cumbersome than just picking up some trays once the trash can has been emptied. "If you see a trash can that is full, do not throw away your trash in it," Beach says. "The employees will thank you!" Find out the rude habits that grocery store employees wish you wouldn't do, too.
It's no secret that oftentimes people ordering fast food are far from sober, but Frigo still feels the need to remind would-be customers: "Don’t try to hand me a joint through the drive-through window!" He didn't comment on how many times this happened to him, but his reaction was thus: "Looks like you're having a ball, but...I’m working." That pretty much sums it up. But the customers probably did think they were being polite! "I appreciate the thoughtfulness," Frigo acknowledges, "but you’re just going to get me in trouble." Next, read about more of the craziest things drive-through workers have seen while on the job.