The Weird Drive-Thru Habits We Share But Don’t Talk About

We’ve all developed subconscious routines as we pick up our precious fast food.

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Photo: Zhang Peng / Contributor (Getty Images)

What happens in the drive-thru lane is an intimate moment between the driver, the fast food employee, and any passengers that might be in the car. Almost like a dance, there’s a give and take between the placing and fulfilling of any order, with an established rhythm that keeps everything moving along smoothly. Which is why we’ve all developed these subconscious habits when we head to the drive-thru. How often have you caught yourself doing all of these?

Memorizing and reciting your order

Admit it: You recite, either out loud (quietly) or in your head, what you want over and over again as you pull up to the speaker to place your order, like you’re auditioning for the role of Confident Combo Meal Requester in a TV show.

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Yet even with all that preparation and dress rehearsal, you still fumble over your order. Or, even worse, you place your order with conviction only to be told that they’re out of chicken sandwiches that day. Now you have to craft a new order on the fly (oh no, improv) and there’s a line building behind you. For some of us this is a waking nightmare, so all we can do is come in prepared and hope for the best.

Checking the bag

Anyone who doesn’t check the bag before driving away must have the most immense faith in the universe that everything will work out for the best. The rest of us, on the other hand, are more realistic. In a drive-thru line of 10 cars, each with multiple passengers, at least one order is bound to be a little off.

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No one’s perfect. Mistakes happen, and it’s just better to correct them in the moment rather than driving off toward disappointment. So there’s nothing wrong with doing a quick feel around in the bag to make sure all your food is there. Some customers even go the extra mile and check items in the bag against the receipt to ensure they weren’t charged for something extra.

Eating the fries immediately

You probably don’t even notice yourself doing it anymore, but before pulling out of the drive-thru lane your hand almost certainly reaches in the bag and pulls out a few fries. Just a few. Maybe it’s the smell, or you want to catch them at peak freshness, or maybe you’re just that hungry, but whatever the reason, it feels impossible to wait until reaching your destination to start in on the fries. They absolutely must be eaten in transit.

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The only dilemma that might arise when you’re in the habit of devouring straight-from-the-bag fries is when your order is for multiple people. Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, you’re likely not paying much attention to which order of fries you’re pulling from. This means that by the time you actually do reach your destination, one of the orders will likely have significantly less fries than the other.

Do you give the other person the full order of fries, or do you keep it for yourself? This is a moral dilemma you may face, and we won’t pretend we’ve never considered the more sinister path.

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As you pull away with the food you oh so confidently ordered, a few fresh fries making their way out of the bag and into your mouth, the dance is complete. The routines were performed perfectly once again, and all is right with the world.