Drive-thru etiquette, Jim Blake style

Jim Blake, following most of his drive-thru etiquette rules.
Jim Blake, following most of his drive-thru etiquette rules.

The drive-thru has become a staple of Canadian life.

Whether it’s for the morning jolt of java, the burger on the go, the late-night snack or something else, we all use them.

Having said that, there are those people who day-after-freaking-day, just don’t seem to get that there has to be some etiquette –  a method, a system, for God’s sake – or the entire thing goes off the rails.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek (and with apologies to Mitch Albom’s “Five People You Meet in Heaven”), here are the five people you meet in drive thru’s.

1)  “The I can’t be bothered to pull up” person. You’ve seen them. They seem to think they’re on the 401 and have to leave several car lengths between themselves and the car in front. Guess what? You don’t. Other people want to order too. The line behind you is stretching to Shrewsbury. Move along. Now. Do it.

2)  The “I’m not sure what to order” person. Unless you’re new to the planet, the menu hasn’t changed. It’s coffee and pastry. Burgers and fries. Regular or diet. No matter how long you stare at the board, you’re not going to have orange juice and champagne or an eight-ounce filet, medium rare. Don’t be the squirrel in the middle of the road, because you KNOW what happens to them. Just order.

3)   The “I don’t have exact change” person. Possibly related to the “I can’t be bothered to pull up” person. These folks make the rest of us sit and wait while they count up their nickels, dimes, quarters and pennies. I swear they’re still counting pennies.  Here’s a hint. Removing the change from your console won’t lighten your car and give you better gas mileage.  Whip out your debit card or flash a bill and “git ’er done.”

4)  The “I’m ordering for a small village” person. This person is probably disliked by everyone they come in contact with, so they try to buy affection by bringing back snacks for all. It won’t work. I once had a failed mayoral candidate tell me “They’ll drink your tea and eat your cookies and they still won’t vote for you.” I think he was right. Take care of Numero Uno. Christmas is over. Be greedy. And hurry up about it.

5)  The “how does this system work” person. Likely a recent parolee, they seem mystified by the ordering process. Here are your instructions. Drive up to the menu box, listen to the pleasant greeting and tell them what you want. That’s it. You don’t need to back up, you don’t need to drive all the way to the window to discuss your order and you don’t need to put your garbage in the bin (because you always seem to miss – I’ve seen you). What you need to do is get safely to where you’re going. That’s enough of a challenge for today, binky.


  1. No one should be "ordering for a small village" at a drive through! Park your car, walk into the establishment and place your large order so those of us who just want a quick java can get in and out in a hurry.

  2. And – just for fun – "pay it forward" by paying for the guy (or gal) who's in line behind you! It has happened to me – and it has made my day!

  3. And just a word of advice from somebody's who's been there … check to make sure your car window isn't solidly frozen shut before getting caught in the line… it's sooooo embarrassing.

  4. I've got a suggestion to all the comments on here..First of all…Set your (home coffee maker) to go off 10min. before your alarm clock. Then have yourself a cup or 2 before you even leave your door. You can even check your text messages from the safety of your home, while you sip on that first needed cup of coffee…. This is environmentally friendly….and keeps both your hands free on the drive to work! Not to mention the aggravation it will save! These drive-throughs are becoming a BAD habit!


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