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One latte, please, and oh can you also fix my phone?

The introduction of drive-thrus to Starbucks was inevitable, as was a long line of cars waiting for their overpriced drinks and pastries. Coffee literally on the go is the future. But in fact, the other day I ran into an interesting problem that comes with having to wait in a car line, versus a person line. Rude customers have much more room and power to get their way – I mean who is going to risk the embarrassment of exiting their car, leaving it unattended as they walk awkwardly up to the stalling car’s window (if there’s room), so as to politely ask the driver to stop holding everyone up?

I honestly pondered my options while I waited behind a stalling driver who had the thick and rolly arms of a middle-aged woman but the gaudy pink nail polish of a teenager. Her arm was the only thing I could see of her, stretched outside her window and holding up her smartphone for the window clerk to inspect and even intermittently touch and poke. Perhaps there was a coupon or discount code that they couldn’t get to work? Whatever the issue, this lady was clearly not going to move until it was solved. Several minutes passed, five, ten, fifteen…I began to feel uncomfortable, like I should be trying to get this lady to move. But I didn’t want to act on my impatience, or talk to a stranger for that matter.

The wait dragged on and I actually got distracted with my own phone, and didn’t even see when she finally left. I just looked up and suddenly realized it was ME who was holding the others up now. I quickly rolled up to get my drink. The window clerk apologized and said that the lady “had a weird problem with her phone and wouldn’t go away.” In my mind I pictured a big, impetuous woman who tends to corner the first person she can to fix her problems, oblivious to her surroundings. I wasn’t upset, but interested in what I’d seen, and how I could have reacted differently.

Should I have tried to interfere and asked her to move along, or was it appropriate to wait as long as necessary until the clerks handled it? What if this kind of hold-up gets quite long, like over twenty minutes? I’d like to hear thoughts and tidbits from Ehell. I’m a new reader and have sincerely enjoyed and appreciated what I’ve seen in the community thus far. 0523-17

I was in a similar dilemma last week.  Something was going on at the payment window that required a manager.   The minutes tick by….I’m usually a laidback person who doesn’t sweat the little inconveniences…but this was turning into a marathon of waiting and there were people behind me. Once in this particular drive-thru there was no bailing, you were stuck.   As the car directly behind the stalled one at the window, I was getting agitated. My food was likely getting cold at the pick up window so I tapped my horn to signal that this had gone on long enough.   Driver honked back at me.   I was more irked at the manager who should have directed her to a parking space and settled the issue either away from the drive-thru line or inside the restaurant.  I honked again…got a reply honk from driver again.   The minutes keep ticking by….I finally leaned my head out the window and yelled to the manager to please settle this inside the store.    Once I got to the payment window the manager was gone but the clerk looked chagrined. No one was happy.  And my fries were cold.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anon April 26, 2018, 4:43 am

    I personally feel the “settle it elsewhere” approach should be used in instances like this. Even if the line is already inside the store. Just this past weekend my husband and young son and I were at a large chain sporting goods store, to purchase baseball socks. A woman was trying to buy flip flops, buy one get one half off. First, one of the pairs was not marked. Then a manager needed to be called to ring in manually. Then of course, never mind, she wanted a different pair altogether, and had to go fetch it.this pair wouldn’t ring either. So call for another associate to help…They can’t figure it out, call a manager instead. At that point, it was over ten minutes in and our small child was getting increasingly impatient. At no point did the extra associate or manager bring the woman to another register to figure out the problem, or offer to open another register for us…in fact, not one of them even acknowledged that we had even been waiting. So we put the socks back and left. I wouldnt mind waiting ten minutes in a busy, moving line, but to just stand there unacknowlged while 3 people try to work out a holdup? Nope.

    • shoegal April 26, 2018, 11:05 am

      Once was at a well known chain craft store. Early morning – hardly anyone in the store – me and apparently one other lady who was working with the one cashier there to figure out some problem. When I came up with my purchase she and the lady were well into it – but the minutes ticked by and this looked like a marathon situation and I was losing patience. Was there no other employee in the entire store??? Was she returning something? Buying something? Couldn’t get the coupon code off her phone??? What?!!!! I contemplated putting everything back and just leaving. The lone cashier didn’t acknowledge that I was waiting there, didn’t so much as look at me, didn’t call up another associate from the back so I was left there to console myself when another cashier wondered up to the front. I don’t think there is too much that can be done about these situations. If I had a problem I wouldn’t want to be shoved aside, I waited in line too – but I think after 20 minutes go by something ought to be done to relieve the wait for everyone else.

      • Kate 2 April 27, 2018, 12:13 pm

        Man, that really stinks. I’ve been there too.

        I used to work as a sales associate and cashier at a large chain craft store. It was huge, as big as a professional hockey stadium (can’t remember the square footage). And when the software the corporate office used to determine staffing levels predicted low sales that day (based on previous years, weather, coupons out, etc) just 2 people would be allowed to work that day. For the whole store.

        It was a nightmare for us, we really wanted to provide good customer service, but corporate would not allow us too. They relied on the fact that we were the only fabric and craft store for a hundred miles in most places.

        As well, once you were in, most people weren’t going to leave only to have to make another trip in to get the stuff they abandoned the first time but still needed. Or to order online and have to wait for it to arrive.

        • Michelle April 30, 2018, 8:08 am

          A couple of stores in our area have that scheduling software and I always feel bad for the employees and customers! The system I am referring to does not allow managers to adjust staffing levels, just times, so customers do not always understand why there are only X number of employees, even if the store is packed.

          • Anon May 3, 2018, 5:31 am

            Oh, I totally understand this. I have worked in both retail and foodservice and staffing in both situations is a best guess situation, sometimes it is bound to be wrong. But the problem in this situation didn’t seem to be lack of staff. There were two associates and a manager at the registers, as well as two associates within view doing what looked like stocking or inventory (granted those two may not have been register trained, but still). I would have felt more patience of one of these employees had at least acknowledged our presence and wait. There was not a line at all, it was the lady with the sandals and my family behind her, that’s it.

    • Kristen April 26, 2018, 10:30 pm

      I think you make a really good point. Unfortunately Starbucks has a strong policy against “parking cars.” Basically Starbucks never has drive through customers pull ahead or come inside to settle things. While I personally disagree with this policy I would hate to see someone lose their job for such a reason. As much as I empathize with those waiting m, I know I would not personally risk my job and livelihood to “settle” something elsewhere. I hope others can understand and cut the employees and managers some slack.

      • EchoGirl April 28, 2018, 4:22 pm

        It can definitely be an issue that “comes from the top”, as it were. It’s still annoying, but you’re right to point out that the people a customer is interacting with may not be the individuals responsible for the annoyance, and getting mad at the person behind the counter because that’s the person you can see is rude and obnoxious.

  • lkb April 26, 2018, 5:02 am

    Aggravating and maddening as these situations are, sometimes there’s not a darn thing you can do about them. Honking the horn didn’t help, did it? The manager, being a manager, probably also had other issues that needed help RIGHT NOW! along with this one.
    Really, the only thing you can do is hope the drivers behind you get equally frustrated and back out so you can too.

    Signed, the one who gets in the drive-thru for a measly Coke only to be behind the family of 12 who hasn’t eaten in a year and who all have special orders and coupons….

  • nora April 26, 2018, 5:55 am

    OP, clearly the woman in front of you in line was being inconsiderate, but I also want to point out that your description of her was unkind and unnecessary.

    • Michelle April 26, 2018, 8:39 am

      I agree Nora. Waiting in long lines is frustrating, but a fact of life.

      OP- you are actually the rude one, in my opinion, for describing the woman like this: “thick and rolly arms of a middle-aged woman but the gaudy pink nail polish of a teenager” and “In my mind I pictured a big, impetuous woman”. Neither of those line was necessary to describe the situation. Had the woman had thin and lean arms and no nail polish would you still have been as frustrated? If you have pictured a thin, considerate woman would that have made your frustration more bearable?

      As long as you have to sign-up electronically or download an app or pay with your phone to get coupons and discounts, this kind of thing will continue to happen. Of course, there is always the option of getting out of your vehicle and going inside the establishment.

    • Madge April 26, 2018, 8:45 am

      I rather think it added to the plot. It’s not like the OP went up to the window and told her that she was large.

      Generic descriptions really aren’t descriptions.

      • sillyme April 27, 2018, 2:43 pm

        However, insulting someone for their perceived size reflects badly on the writer, and engenders sympathy for the target.

    • Bernadette April 26, 2018, 10:13 am

      Methinks the OP has a problem with “large” people. “Thick rolly arms”? “Big, impetuous woman”? Al this from a glimpse of her arm reaching up to the drive-through window?
      A skinny chick w/a phone coupon problem would have taken just as long!

      • Bernadette April 26, 2018, 10:14 am

        “All this”, not “Al this”. Duh. 🙂

    • Emily April 26, 2018, 10:45 am

      Thanks I was going to say this too. The nasty comments about her nailpolish and presumed weight were unnecessary.

    • Suzanne April 26, 2018, 10:54 am

      YES. I have no idea how. The size of her arms or the colour of her nail polish was even remotely relevant to this story. We need to stop obsessing over each other’s appearances already.

    • CarolynM April 26, 2018, 11:11 am

      Thank you for pointing that out, Nora – it bothered me too. Her “thick and rolly” arms and nail polish had nothing at all to do with whether she was rude or not. She was, but she would have been just as rude with skinny little arms and neutral nail polish.

    • Kirsten April 26, 2018, 12:46 pm

      I found myself wondering if the OP would have been more tolerant if the person in front had toned arms and subtle nail polish.

    • Aleko April 26, 2018, 1:21 pm


    • Jenn50 April 26, 2018, 1:29 pm

      Agreed. An unflattering physical description that has nothing to do with her conduct reflects more poorly on the OP than the line staller, in my opinion. And I don’t think there’s any age limit on colorful nail polish.

    • Miss-E April 26, 2018, 1:29 pm

      Thank you. I was coming here to write the same thing. I’ve met plenty of nice people with thick arms and pink nail polish, there was no need to take that sort of tone!

    • RR April 26, 2018, 1:48 pm

      Agreed. I could do without the fat-shaming descriptors of “thick and rolly” and picturing her as a “big” woman.

    • Lisa April 26, 2018, 1:48 pm

      Totally agree. OP lost all sympathy with his/her totally irrelevant musings about whether the woman was fat and middle-aged and that she found the woman’s nail polish tacky.

    • clairedelune April 26, 2018, 2:50 pm

      Yeah. And in fact, I’m not sure whether to be more put off by her irrelevant mention of the woman’s arm size and cosmetic choices, or her implication that “rolly” arms are a trait that automatically comes with middle age.

    • Moonie April 26, 2018, 6:55 pm

      I totally agree….as a middle aged woman with large arms and gaudy pink nail polish.

    • Sarah April 27, 2018, 2:16 pm

      OP Here.

      I blame my background as a creative writer on how I decided to tell this story. I wanted to paint a character for the readers to imagine, and I stuck with what I most vividly remembered. Thick arms, bright nail polish. I wasn’t writing to be considerate, but interesting.

      Thinking back on it, I regret what I said. This isn’t a fictional story like what I’m used to writing. The woman I described is an actual person, and I went with unflattering words for her just because I wanted to be interesting and descriptive. If I ever submit another story here I will remember this, that I’m talking about real people, and I should be more considerate.

      • lkb April 28, 2018, 7:19 am

        Thank you for your very thoughtful apology. It takes a takes a certain amount of courage, class, and humility to admit when one makes a mistake. Kudos to you!

      • EchoGirl April 28, 2018, 4:39 pm

        Thanks for clarifying!

        For the record, as a writer myself, I get what you were trying to do. I think it just so happens that society (however incorrectly) links certain body types with bad behavior, and your description happened to match the stereotype, which made it seem like you might be feeding into it.

      • Zhaleh May 1, 2018, 8:16 pm

        I actually read it and thought, that’s how it would be written in fiction, which is also why I didn’t have a problem with it.
        It was descriptive and I still don’t see the problem with it.
        I said in another comment, you could have been describing my arm if it was hanging out if a car window. So what? I guess every other person here would be thoroughly grossed out by my arms.

        They’re not that bad! Really!

      • Editor May 10, 2018, 9:37 am

        I work in publishing, and as you identify as a creative writer, I hope I can offer some constructive criticism. There’s nothing wrong with adding descriptive details to flesh out a story, and there’s a lot right with it, but it may be worth examining what kinds of description you use to denote what kinds of personality traits. It’s an unfortunate reflection of our society that it’s so easy to associate “fat” and “old” with “bad,” especially when it comes to female characters, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. Even if you don’t care about reinforcing stereotypes, you may want to consider that it’s a cliched and boring choice.

        I wish you all the best with your writing, whether about real people or fictional,.

    • Alysoun May 2, 2018, 10:50 pm

      Yes, I was wondering whether it would have been ok to wait for someone with slim, firm, well-toned arms.

  • Anonymous April 26, 2018, 6:24 am

    It’s even ruder to take too long in a drive-thru line than a regular walking line, because people have the expectation of expediency when they use the drive-thru–after all, it’s supposed to be faster than getting out of their cars and walking inside the restaurant to get their food. Also, I think it’s even more rude in situations like the one the OP described, because there’s no way to exit that drive-thru line early if you change your mind. So, a person dithering over drink choices or quibbling over coupon codes in that particular drive-thru, is necessarily holding up everyone behind him or her, and that’s rude. I mean, out of all those people, maybe someone is going to be late for work, someone is going to be late to drop off a child at school (or be late for school themselves), someone’s on their way to an appointment they can’t miss, but somehow, the slowpoke at the drive-thru window believes that her time, is more important than ALL of those people’s time, put together. Another thing–smartphones are fragile. If I was planning to use a coupon code on my phone, I’d go inside the restaurant instead of using the drive-thru, because I’d be afraid of accidentally dropping the phone on the pavement from the car window, and smashing it.

  • Shannon April 26, 2018, 6:35 am

    I’m not a fan of rude people. Then again, I’m also not a fan of the extremely rude people who fat shame and bash the appearance of others. How is it even relevant that the woman was overweight and wore pink nail polish?

    • Michelle April 26, 2018, 8:40 am


    • Vrinda April 26, 2018, 10:21 am

      It’s just a description she was giving. I’m overweight and I sometimes wear pink nail polish, but what she wrote didn’t bother me.

    • MeToo April 26, 2018, 10:58 am

      Says more about the poster than I wanted to know. As well as took away any sympathy I may have had previously for the bad experience.

    • Anonymous April 26, 2018, 12:15 pm

      Oh, yeah. I just caught that. Agreed–I’m slightly overweight myself (but fit and healthy), and my nails are currently painted red. Neither of those things have anything to do with how I behave in public.

    • Zhaleh April 26, 2018, 9:00 pm

      I didn’t read that as her being overweight. I get the description wasn’t necessary but I didn’t see it as mean or unkind or offensive and I didn’t get “fat” or shameful from it at all.
      It wouldn’t be a bad description of my own arms, I’m not over weight but I am middle aged. No pink polish though

  • Miss R April 26, 2018, 6:35 am

    this is why I don’t use drive thrus. Plus I bet ALL the cars in line had their engines running the whole time, wasting gas and polluting.

    • Dee April 26, 2018, 11:19 am

      When drive-thrus were first approved here I was shocked – how could we need MORE convenience than we already had at a fast-food place? Who would be so lazy as to sit in a car rather than walk the few feet inside the restaurant? To be honest, I did find the drive-thrus convenient when I had a baby sleeping in the backseat, but nothing bad would have happened if there hadn’t been a drive-thru. Either I’d have made the choice to wake up baby and carry him inside or I’d not have gotten fast food. It’s not as if that would be a problem.

      And I’m still opposed to drive-thrus. They’re still as unnecessary as they were when they were first invented. And I don’t understand this modern “need” to regularly go out to buy a cup of coffee in a disposable cup. What ever happened to having coffee in a coffee shop, or drinking it at home, made by yourself? How do people justify their freedom to do these things when they’re creating garbage overflows and making the air unbreathable?

      There is no need for fast food. It’s a treat. It’s not healthy, it’s very expensive, and it’s not convenient at all, since it takes less time to make a sandwich at home than it does to drive to a restaurant. So there is no need for it to be even more convenient than it already is, by ordering inside the restaurant. And there is a great need for us to stop degrading our environments for the sake of laziness.

      So when I read a letter like this one, where the person is frustrated by the wait at the drive-thru, I can’t help but wonder how it is they think they are entitled to such a service, when the world – and, in particular, the local environment – cannot sustain such behaviour, and everyone else is being forced to pay for it. Get out and walk or don’t get the food. It’s not difficult. It’s what generations did before this one. And maybe, as a side effect, we’d see less kids and adults with diabetes and asthma, too. That’s a win-win.

      • Livvy17 April 27, 2018, 9:03 am

        Drive through fast food can be a lifesaver when jetting from work to pick up kid, to get to kid’s soccer game, etc., There isn’t always time to stop at home, go into the restuarant, etc. There may not be refrigeration at work, or some ability to store food that is pre-prepared.
        I find your comments to be very judgmental, and coming from a place lacking empathy or even sympathy for others. “there is no need for it to be even more convenient than it already is.” Yet, you admit that you found it pretty convenient when you were out driving and had a sleeping child in the car. Check your hypocrisy, please.

        • Dee April 28, 2018, 11:29 am

          I find people advocating for drive-thrus lack sympathy for anyone who wants to breathe clean air. I can’t have empathy for people who declare they need fast food, since there is no such need. I have sympathy for people with mobility issues who just want a treat and as much independence as possible, but what did they do before drive-thrus? And we could still give those with disability placards the option. That would eliminate the problem to the point it doesn’t exist anymore.

          Nobody actually needs drive-thrus, as evidenced by how well the world functioned before they were invented. But we all need clean air. If you don’t agree, please keep yourself and your lack of sympathy towards others away from my part of the world.

          • Miss-E April 30, 2018, 1:24 am

            I don’t disagree about the air quality issue but it’s more than just laziness that pushes people toward drive-thrus. I was never a fan…until i had my first kid. Let me tell you the world of difference it makes to be able to roll through a drive-thru line without worrying about waking a four month old by stopping the car, hauling out the car seat and schlepping it inside. Yes, I could survive without it but it makes my life so much easier (and it benefits the other patrons who don’t have to hear my daughter cry because she’s awake now and wants OUT of her car seat!)

          • Zhaleh May 1, 2018, 8:24 pm

            This is such an interesting turn of conversation. I’ve never had a car so my kids and I were never going through drive thru’s. I even walked much more because dragging a stroller in and off public transportation and thus irritating everyone else who was on the bus was just a pain. I pushed those strollers through rain, snow and whatever else was happening.
            I’m glad those days are over.
            I guess that’s not much of a contribution, but when a baby is stressing you out, any convenience is welcome.

          • Miss-E April 30, 2018, 1:26 am

            And I’m not just talking about fast food here either. Being able to bank via drive thru or get prescriptions is also made massively easier now.

          • shoegal April 30, 2018, 11:06 am

            You’d be amazed at what can be accomplished and done without these “conveniences.” I remember my microwave breaking. I was amazed at what the stove could do. It did absolutely everything the microwave did and sometimes way better. I never replaced the microwave – I found I didn’t have a need for it if I had a functioning stove.

            I don’t need the drive thru – I’d rather go in and get it but I also rarely do fast food. Nobody actually really needs any of these things – you’d live if they just didn’t exist. There are a couple of modern conveniences though that I wouldn’t want to do without.

          • Ange April 30, 2018, 11:24 pm

            Again: you have used them and admit as much. Perhaps tend to your own yard before criticising another’s lawn.

      • Ange April 27, 2018, 11:29 pm

        So the only good drive through is the one you’re using then?

      • WickedWitchoftheWest April 30, 2018, 12:08 am

        I totally agree with you. Recently someone won the lotto here and said they had been too poor to buy (takeaway) coffee before…and I thought ‘well, why not just drink coffee at home/work’. It is definitely one of those things to emerge over the last 15 years or so that I have found strange – takeaway coffee being considered ‘normal’ even when you are basically settled in a place such as work or home so could very easily use your own cup and make your own coffee.

        And same with drive throughs – I have told my kids (who consider them normal) how funny I find it that people will drive through to get food and interact only through the window of their car. Yes I now do this sometime as my teenagers love some of the food, but still find it funny. As I tell my kids, by the time you drive and get the food, choose etc, it is really not even a quick option, so not a ‘time poor’ thing (except say when say stuck at the hospital when your child is a patient – then it sure is) as so much quicker to make toasted sandwiches, a salad with vegetables and a cooked chicken or an omelette etc at home. And with so many ready meals available today even easier. I have absolutely fallen for that myself in the past, thinking it was quicker – and then realised it took more time, so just something that we are taught to regard as quick.

        The planet should definitely be our consideration…that we don’t is one of the reasons that when people talk about how we must colonise Mars to save the species I think ‘why bother…humans are not so great’

        • Dee May 1, 2018, 1:15 am

          So well said, WickedWitch – and the same argument gets made re disposable diapers vs. cloth. I saved a lot of time washing diapers rather than running out to the store, and then having to take each and every wet/dirty diaper out to the trash, because they stink so bad they can’t be kept in the garbage inside. Whereas cloth just needs a rinse and doesn’t smell at all. People would say they just buy the diapers when they’re getting groceries but it seems the late night emergency run for diapers is so common it’s the norm. All that gas and time when a cloth is so much quicker and easier.

          And then there are all the sob stories about poor people needing charity to buy diapers and pre made baby food. It frightens me sometimes when I think of how those kids can possibly grow up healthy with parents who can’t do simple math or chores. But we’re a society that buys into the marketing so easily, and that’s the biggest problem of them all. So many people just don’t want to think for themselves.

          Yeah, we’d just trash Mars with drive-thrus and dirty diapers anyway. Might as well stay home.

          • HelenB May 3, 2018, 3:48 pm

            Well, people without access to laundry facilities or without a working refrigerator and stove might just need the charity of someone giving them diapers and pre-made baby food. It’s not all, but there are people in that situation. And once in that situation, they can’t exactly just put the child back where he/she came from.

        • HenrysMom May 1, 2018, 4:48 pm

          Well, if you don’t like drive-thru’s, don’t use them. As for myself (single retired woman, small apartment with small kitchen, no storage space, small dog with separation anxiety, hot climate), I find them quite useful.

          Someone said on this board, “don’t yuk someone else’s yum.” To expand upon that, don’t condemn someone else’s convenience.

      • Alysoun May 2, 2018, 10:51 pm

        I have mobility issues. Sometimes I can avoid a lot of pain and discomfort by going to a drive-thru instead of going inside. Also, caffeine is not an unhealthy luxury. It’s a medical necessity.

    • Rebecca April 28, 2018, 12:04 am

      Yes. I don’t do drive-thrus either. Usually there is a long line of idling cars and I don’t have the patience. I park the car and go in, and usually get served immediately. That is, on the rare occasions that I get fast food at all – say, on a road trip. I make my coffee at home. I can see using the drive-thru option if I were injured, had mobility issues, or a baby in the car that I would have to unstrap, carry, re-strap into the car seat, etc. But I don’t think that is most people.

      Plus I would go ballistic waiting behind the person with a problem, no matter the size of their arms.

  • AMC April 26, 2018, 7:24 am

    What really irks me in a drive-thru line is when people refuse to move all the way up in like, instead leaving a huge gap between them and the car in front of them. On several occasions, I’ve found myself just a few feet shy of the speaker and unable to put in my order because one of the cars ahead refused to pull up an extra six feet.

    I’d also like to add that I tend to have much less sympathy for OPs who insist on appearance-shaming. I get it, a person was rude to you and it feels good to get in a little petty dig at them, but that isn’t a good look on anyone.

    • rindlrad April 26, 2018, 12:49 pm

      The person who leaves two car lengths between their car and the car in front of them in the drive-through. Arrrrgh! One of my pet peeves!!! I’m seriously an advocate for adding drive-through do’s and don’ts to the driving test.

    • Zhaleh April 26, 2018, 9:01 pm

      Wow, I must be the only one that didn’t seem to find that description offensive.

    • Rebecca April 29, 2018, 7:38 pm

      I don’t understand why a gap would make any difference to the speed at which you get your food. So you get to the speaker a little later. You still have to wait for the cars in front of you to get their orders, no matter what. If you put in your order a few seconds earlier, you will just be sitting behind the car in front of you anyway, while they finish and pay.

  • A different Tracy April 26, 2018, 7:27 am

    It’s hard to agree with such a judgmental submission.

    • TeamBhakta April 26, 2018, 11:48 am

      I especially loved that the OP is looking down her nose at people who frequent Starbucks, use a drive-through lane & eat “overpriced drinks and pastries”, when she’s there to do all of those things, too.

  • Maggie April 26, 2018, 7:49 am

    “I honestly pondered my options while I waited behind a stalling driver who had the thick and rolly arms of a middle-aged woman but the gaudy pink nail polish of a teenager.”

    Wow – judgmental much? I fail to see what that has to do with the story other than to make you seem better than all those other people “waiting for their overpriced drinks and pastries.”

  • DGS April 26, 2018, 7:58 am

    Certainly, it is rude to hold everyone up at line, and if a coupon code or an app that connects one’s credit card to the phone does not work, after a couple of tries, it is time to find another method of payment or move on…HOWEVER, the judgment of the woman’s arm and her nail polish was tacky and completely unnecessary. Polite, tactful people do not comment on other people’s appearance unless that directly impacts their own personal experience (e.g. someone disheveled with a strong body odor crowding in one’s personal space on an adjacent bus or plane seat, someone wearing a t-shirt with an offensive or racist slogan, etc.)

  • Leigh April 26, 2018, 7:59 am

    15 minutes is entirely too long to wait; the manager should have intervened as, as the admin said, handled it inside with the customer; however, I lost all sympathy for the OP when she wrote this:

    “who had the thick and rolly arms of a middle-aged woman but the gaudy pink nail polish of a teenager.” I’m sorry, but what does any of this have to do with the story other than to serve the purpose of pointing out how far superior the OP is in waiting for their drink? Who cares if she had big arms? Would smaller arms have made her any less middle aged, or any less rude? Who cares if the OP didn’t care for her nail polish color? Still makes the woman no less rude and/or middle aged. WHY do we feel the need to comment in a derogatory manner on someone’s outer appearance as if that has any bearing whatsoever on how they behave, or whether or not they are rude or polite?

    BUT when the OP realizes she (or he) is the one holding up the line because of being distracted by their phone, it’s completely OK, or at best an “oopsie” moment, because, well, it’s the OP, not some fat broad in the car ahead.

    • Michelle April 26, 2018, 8:46 am

      I agree Leigh. She felt the need to make rude comments about the woman and imagine unkind things about her. I wonder when she was holding up the line was the customers behind her thinking unkind things about her?

    • Miss-E April 26, 2018, 1:31 pm

      Lol at that last bit. And well said!

  • Wild Irish Rose April 26, 2018, 8:05 am

    OP, I get your frustration–we’ve all been there at some point. My question is why you felt the need to comment on the woman’s size. How is that relevant to the story?

    • Sarah April 27, 2018, 2:22 pm

      OP Here.

      It isn’t. I regret including it. I’m a creative writer, used to writing scenes and stories that should have character description and imagery. But here and in other stories where little etiquette lessons are shared, it was an inappropriate and confusing detail.

      • bellini April 28, 2018, 2:49 pm

        Plus what exactly is a “rolly” arm. Rolly?

      • Leigh April 29, 2018, 2:17 pm

        I am also a creative writer. Your story serves to remind me that my character descriptions should be based on personality traits rather than physical ones if I want my readers to truly dislike a character.
        Thank you for that (honestly, not sarcasm there). I wouldn’t want my readers to dislike a character based on physical appearance any more than I would like someone to dislike me based on my physical appearance. Crafting personalities (likeable or unlikeable) is a lot of work!

        What type of stories do you normally write?

        • Zhaleh May 1, 2018, 8:35 pm

          Leigh, I love literature. I would hate to think a story teller was censoring themselves so as to never explore the less pleasant realities of life.
          Like some of of when we become middle aged our arms become a big bigger, less toned and perhaps “rolly”

          Try reading Ann Cleeves “Vera” mysteries. They are really popular. The main character is an overweight, badly dressed, lonely, hard drinking detective with itchy, eczema on her legs. But she’s an awesome character.

          If you’re not going to physically describe someone because you may upset some random person, you may as well just go into technical writing.

          • Leigh May 3, 2018, 8:36 am

            Zhaleh, I don’t mean (or want) that authors should censor themselves. What I mean is that when I write, I want my characters to have depth beyond a physical description. More than a few stories I’ve read are long on description, and low on depth, as though telling me the exact shade of hair is telling me everything I need to know about someone. It isn’t. I need to be challenged, and remind myself that when I create a character, to go beyond the outer part to avoid cardboard stock characters with no depth. If I want my readers to dislike someone, or love them, or love them in spite of their horribleness, then I need to get in their head, not their mirror.

  • Melissa April 26, 2018, 8:25 am

    I think that this is definitely something for management to handle, and if they don’t handle it very well, it’s worth a complaint. Plenty of times, when food isn’t quite ready in a drive-thru, they will direct you to a parking space or another area to wait, so they can finish serving other customers. That’s what should be done of the *restaurant* has a delay. If a customer is delaying the process, the employee or management should ask them politely to move along or come inside.

    However, OP immediately lost my sympathy when they called out Starbucks for their overpriced drinks and pastries, while telling a story about buying said “overpriced” drinks and/or pastries from Starbucks. I am quite positive there was a gas station nearby with lower prices, if that’s a concern. OP lost my respect when they felt the need to call out the rude woman for her arm size and nail polish color. That was very rude. And bonus points for getting so engrossed in your phone that YOU end up holding up the line.

    • Kristen April 26, 2018, 10:33 pm

      Starbucks has a strong policy against that practice. Doing so would result in the manager losing their job. While it is common practice at many other fast food restaurants it’s inpo to remember sometimes managements hands are tied.

      • Sharon Johnson April 27, 2018, 6:46 am

        Managers–and employees–should have the discretion to deal with an issue like this to keep their customers happy and lines moving. Perhaps he or she should have comped the coffee and told the woman to come in to the store later to deal with the phone issue. Think of the cars that couldn’t get in the stalled line and the business lost; the anger and frustration of the customers that couldn’t get OUT of the line and were extremely frustrated with Starbucks. It is just not good company policy.

        And, as a middle-aged woman with flabby arms I was a little offended that this was an issue with OP. Just sayin.

        • Kate 2 April 27, 2018, 12:17 pm

          It isn’t good company policy, but unfortunately it is a reality. And sadly the rise of computer based sales systems, barcodes instead of price tags, and the decline of cash means that managers have almost no “workarounds”. Everything they do, every sale, every product, even the coupons used are tracked and analyzed by the software.

        • Bea April 27, 2018, 3:30 pm

          Sadly huge mega corps never give authority like that to employees. They hire in massive cattle calls frequently and drill their procedures into them, so wiggle room. It’s too hard to then deal with the staff who suffer from lack of good judgement in what is okay to pull forward and what is not.

          The reason they started pulling people forward in fast food is their times are clocked. It helps their stats. It’s not the convenience of the line in back of them.

      • Melissa April 27, 2018, 8:34 am

        I just saw that above, and I stand corrected! I’m one of the very few who don’t drink coffee, so the only time I’ve been in a Starbucks drive thru is when picking up coffee for someone else, not very often. It seems like Starbucks wouldn’t really have a pressing need to have cars wait, because it’s not as if they have to make food, etc, like a fast food place.

        I was meeting up with some ladies at Starbucks a few weekends ago, and a few of them were saying mobile orders were being called out while they waited for their coffees to be made, so they should have just done a mobile order instead of waiting in line, then waiting a while for their drinks to be made. That’s what I would suggest to anyone going to Starbucks at a busy time. Parking your car and running in to grab your coffee is most likely much faster than waiting in the drive thru, assuming parking space isn’t an issue! (And for anyone who may be wondering, I bought a water and a snack since I was taking up space on their patio, I didn’t sit there w/o buying anything 🙂 )

  • inIN April 26, 2018, 8:31 am

    So I’m a little late, but I came to say I found the OP’s tone catty and unnecessary. I get it, you were frustrated and in a possible caffeine deficiency situation going on, but there was a way to tell this story better.
    Not everyone is a proactive manager. I’ve had managers at the drive through as me to pull into a designated spot while they completed my order. I’ve also found myself trapped in the final leg of a drive through for half an hour waiting for my order because the manager hasn’t thought to ask people to pull forward and wait.
    As for the phone issue. There could have been multiple avenues to the story. It could be that she wanted to make the broken phone or app someone else’s problem, but regardless she was going to get the discount. It could be that she genuinely thought the restaurant employee was the most suitable employee to handle the situation at the time. It could be the restaurant employee felt that she wasn’t paid enough to care and that attitude came out in the transaction. You don’t know, but what you did was allow your imagination, colored by your feelings and emotions to fill in the blanks and paint the car in front of you as a villain.

  • Mames April 26, 2018, 8:35 am

    ‘thick and rolly arms of a middle aged woman’


  • ladyv21454 April 26, 2018, 8:55 am

    I agree with other posters – I would have a lot more sympathy for the OP if she hadn’t done the body-shaming of the woman who was holding up the line. That was completely irrelevant to the story – as was the line about “overpriced drinks and pastries”. It’s too bad that the very good point she was trying to make was overshadowed by her being snarky.

  • Bea April 26, 2018, 9:03 am

    Drive thru coffee has been a thing since the 90s over here, I’m chuckling that now since Starbucks is on board finally, it’s “the thing of the future.”

    The Starbucks windows are terrible and never a fast option given their setups. It’s just another line and often neglected. I’m used to only drive ups and Dutch Bros speed, they don’t even need a speaker.

    It doesn’t help Starbucks uses an app, so yeah you’ll see a lot of out stretched phones. It’s frustrating that she held up the line, it’s so rude to not pull around and go in at that point. She was invested in getting it figured out but not exiting her vehicle? Annoying. However it could be a mobility issue so getting out is difficult, who knows.

    Don’t honk unless someone isn’t advancing to the window. If they’re at the window, you’ll only add to the scene and draw the drama out. Just like don’t get into it when the person in front of you in the line inside is being long winded and needy etc.

  • many bells down April 26, 2018, 9:09 am

    I stopped using the Starbucks app because it was glitchy and malfunctioned. And, it stole my money on at least two occasions. Once it said my balance was $7.50, but when I tried to get a latte the barista said there was only $2 on my account. She could SEE that it said $7.50, but scanning it only gave her $2.

    PS: I’m a middle aged woman in bright blue nail polish today. Enjoy your coffee OP.

  • Margo April 26, 2018, 9:20 am

    For all we know, the manager did intervene and the customer wasn’t prepared to move.

    I agree that the description of the customer is very rude and unnecessary – her appearance and taste in nail polish are irrelevant to the story.

    I think honking is also mostly counter productive, if you feel the need to do something, I would have thought that getting out to request a manager, or to request that the car behind you backs up so you can get out, would be more productive.

    If the hold up means your food is cold, then it’s ;legitimate to ask that it is remade (and if appropriate, to offer to go inside to collect it to avoid holding up more people)

  • Dyan April 26, 2018, 9:33 am

    I have to say for over 20 years working in retail some times you just cant get these customers to move…I have tried oh have I tried…
    the cashier always gets the blame..

  • PJ April 26, 2018, 9:36 am

    I think I agree with Admin’s approach here. A tap on the horn will let the driver and the cashier know that you’re not OK with this wait.

    Several drive-thrus near me now have waiting spots so they can take your order at the speaker, collect your money at a window, then you go to a parking spot and wait for your food to be run out to you. (FTR: This is in a city with summer temps over 100%F and winter temps of -20%F and snow that can be a few feet deep. They make it work in all the weather). It is becoming the norm with newer constructions. My dinner for five won’t hold up the Coke and fries order behind me, and none of us is slowed down by the special order fancy coffee drink in the next car.

    For the delays– I place the blame equally on the entitled customer and the enabling workers who only consider pleasing the person right in front of them and give no regard to their customers that are still waiting.

  • TeamBhakta April 26, 2018, 9:58 am

    It was rude to point out the woman had fat arms & a nail polish you didn’t like. That’s very classist.

  • Livvy17 April 26, 2018, 10:25 am

    It’s very possible that she was trying to use her phone to pay for her bill, and that the clerk was the one trying to help, rather than her forcing the clerk to help. Perhaps she didn’t have another form of payment? I think this is on the restaurant, to indicate that the driver should pull aside, etc.

    That said, what drives me crazy in drive-thrus is when someone takes forever/asks a thousand questions before they order (go inside if you’re not familiar and need extra time) or when they order, and then doesn’t pull up all the way to the next car(meaning the person behind may not be able to order) , or doesn’t pay attention, or orders a MASSIVE amount of food (call ahead!), or isn’t prepared with payment when they get to the window.

  • dippy April 26, 2018, 10:36 am

    I have fat arms and love tacky nail polish, but I never go to Starbucks, so I know it wasn’t me!

  • jessiebird April 26, 2018, 10:43 am

    I think the OP was trying to be literary in her description–it’s evocative to imagine just the arm sticking out of the car in all of its detailed description–but managed to stereotype and insult at least two populations of people. Thick and “rolly” arms are by no means the domain of middle-aged women, nor is bright nail polish only to be found on teenagers. (And what is gaudy to some is cheerful to others….) If she’d only just said “thick and rolly arms tipped with bright pink polish,” then we’d have an image with no insults…alas.

    It sounds like the situation was not handled well by the manager, and the OP has negative feelings about the person ahead of her, for good reason, but strongly disagree with the ageist (against young and old!) and style and body-size judgments.

    • Sarah April 27, 2018, 2:26 pm

      OP here.

      You basically nailed it. My literary efforts went sideways. This is a bad and judgmental story on my part. I should have been a lot more thoughtful and read it to myself before submitting it. Too bad I can’t go back a year and stop myself.

      Eh, well, all the shaming in the comments is appropriate karma.

      • Lenniemonster April 30, 2018, 3:01 am

        Hey OP, people are too easily offended, you gave a descriptive take on an arm hanging out a window – that is all. If others want to associate that with themselves, or offensive behaviours, so be it. Saying that you are offended doesnt really mean anything anymore, as its used for the most minute things.

        I am a 40+ overweight woman, with “batflaps” as we have nicknamed them in my family, and it gave me a giggle at the description, as honestly – stereotypes happen for a reason.

        Keep writing in your style – otherwise all we are going to have (sadly) is carefully worded, bland boring novels, articles etc which may as well be cut and paste. People are working on the classics as they are “offensive” without taking the context and time they represent into consideration, now being super PC is making everything bland and boring (almost dystopian wouldn’t you say?)

        • bellini April 30, 2018, 3:37 pm

          Anyone who says “pc” just wants license to be a thoughtless mean and rude person. The second someone complains about other people being “pc” you have lost. And who are you to decide what people are allowed to be offended about? Everyone else’s opinions are just as valid as yours.

  • staceyizme April 26, 2018, 10:55 am

    “First come, first served” is the standard for good reason. Who am I to say that someone else’s issue at the window or the register could be solved more efficiently elsewhere? When you ask someone to give up their place in line and queue up again in order to have the issue resolved, you are essentially saying that their time is less valuable than yours. Unless you’re on life support in are queuing up for an urgently needed surgery, chances are that it’s not a true emergency and that you can either appeal to management, leave or take your business elsewhere. We’ve all been in the position of being stuck behind someone who’s taking an inordinate amount of time in the Drive-Thru and the tendency is to want to blame the other customer. Often, however, it’s simply a case of a large order or an order that’s gone awry, perhaps even multiple times. We’ve all had to come back at another time, take note of service times to avoid at our favorite vendors, and use experience as our guide to determine whether or not we can actually get through that drive-thru line in the 15 minutes allotted to us before our next appointment. Drive-thru often does not mean faster, especially when picking up medication or a similar errand. It affords the convenience of remaining in one’s car, and that’s about all that can be said for it. A bad wait is Just a bad wait, and interfering in the process is unlikely to hurry things along and very likely to escalate an already frustrated client and business representative. Appeals to management, letters to corporate, poor reviews on social media or review platforms and simply taking one’s business elsewhere are all the acknowledged coping mechanisms for such situations. Honking at someone who’s in the process of being served is simply rude at worst and uninformed at best. It’s up to management to move troublesome customers along and it’s up to the company in question to devise systems with that goal in mind. I don’t think it helps to vilify other consumers when it’s actually rare that we do the reason for any given delay.

    • staceyizme April 26, 2018, 10:57 am

      “rare that we KNOW the reason for any given delay…”, sorry.

  • Anon April 26, 2018, 11:02 am

    I would think most people don’t do confront others now because they could have a gun shoved in their face and possibly shot at.

    • Bea April 27, 2018, 3:42 pm

      This has been a real worry since guns were invented. As a youth a friend had a gun drawn on them for a traffic incident. Road rage has killed people around here for decades!

  • Trichele April 26, 2018, 11:09 am

    One time I pulled up to my credit unions drive through. The way they do their lanes means that you are blocked in once in you are in line. There was one person in front of me and I waited so long that my ARM GOT SUNBURNED. It was over an hour wait and I was stuck. I finally got out of the car and walked up to the window of the other car to find out what was going on. The driver said when you withdraw more than $15,000 it has to be approved and go through some kind of security check. To make it even more odd, the car this person was driving looked like it could literally fall apart at any moment. The whole thing was bizarre. I asked if they could move so I could get out of line since I had wasted an hour of my time. They did so and I left. Why would they not direct this person to the lobby?? The bank got a letter from me the next day.

    • NostalgicGal April 30, 2018, 11:45 pm

      It went through on here, I sent in about the time I walked the drive thru line at a local bank during lunch hour and a guy behind me about lost his mind because I was in the line and in it without a car. A lot of people used the drive thru’s as walkup because the ATM’s were awkwardly placed. And the two cars ahead of me took time. During my turn Mr. Problem was a pain, and when he got to the window finally he was refused service. He could come back when the lobby was open.

      Going through the drive thru for a huge withdrawal that was going to take time? I’m surprised they didn’t automatically tell the person they had to park and come in. It should have been policy.

  • Devin April 26, 2018, 11:19 am

    I don’t think this woman was expecting the cashier to fix her phone, she probably uses the Starbucks app to order and/or pay for her food. There was probably an glitch with the app and as a customer I would expect the person at the window to assist in remedying an issue with a product their brand created. She probably didn’t go through the drive thru anticipating this hold up. The manager should have asked her to pull up and figure the problem out without holding up the line, but that’s not something you can fix. If it really was so long and you were stuck, you could have called the store, explained the issue and ask them
    To allow customers to exit the drive thru line as they can no longer wait.
    I don’t understand your description of Starbucks as you were also purchasing their ‘overpriced coffee’ and negative description of the other customer since you had no direct interaction with her.
    In both your case and the admins, it’s the manager, not the customer or cashier who handled the situations incorrectly. If drive thru lanes are causing you inconvenience, don’t use them!

  • Lenore April 26, 2018, 11:31 am

    If you’re going to write something judgemental and nasty about someone else’s appearance, learn how to spell the words first, and use proper punctuation. I have absolutely no sympathy for you or your wait.

  • NoviceGardener April 26, 2018, 12:01 pm

    A prime example of how something that is intended as a convenience to customers (and a way for a business to make more money in a shorter space of time) can swiftly turn into a frustrating pain in the bum for all concerned. I think the short answer is that the manager should have asked the customer to pull into a parking space, brought her order, taken payment, and politely informed her that fixing phones issues isn’t something a coffee shop is equipped to handle.

    I do agree with those that are put off by your description of the customer. I don’t want to come across as mean, because I get the impression from your submission that descriptive writing is something you enjoy and are naturally good at. I think you probably included those details because they seemed amusing to you at the time, but they come across as cruel and unnecessary. The customer was likely clueless, obnoxious, or both – but her size and choice in nail polish have nothing to do with the matter.

    As for your situation, I don’t think you had much choice but to sit tight – it’s the manager who should have asked her to move forward and pull over. You have no way of knowing whether interfering directly will be helpful or unhelpful, and I think experience tells us that it’s more likely to be unhelpful most of the time, because you risk escalating an annoying situation into a confrontational one. I think you made the right decision.

  • NoviceGardener April 26, 2018, 1:01 pm

    An afterthought: It has often struck me that too many businesses bend over backwards for overly-troublesome, entitled customers. In such cases, I suspect that corporate is operating on a misguided policy of “make every customer happy, in case you lose them as a customer”.

    Such short-sighted corporate folks probably fail to realise that:
    a) They’re likely losing more customers than they’re keeping, if you count the many non-confrontational customers waiting in line and witnessing one loud, obnoxious customer being allowed to hold everyone else up and being given undeserved, placatory discounts. Some of these ‘invisible’ customers will wait patiently, pay for their purchases, and then never come back to that shop because of their experience.
    b) Why is it worth keeping one rude customer who causes distress to staff, annoyance to other customers, frustration to managers, and who as often as not gets away with their items free or under cost because they yelled loudly enough?

    Customers should be expected to behave themselves. Walking into a business implies an existing or potential transaction, and there’s no such thing as a one-sided transaction. No business transaction, however complicated or simple, gives someone the right to throw their weight around, make unreasonable demands, or bully people.

    I’m not for one minute suggesting that customers aren’t allowed to get annoyed when their (reasonable) expectations aren’t met, and having been both a waitress and a bartender in my time, I know that sometimes part of the job is to take a bit of flack with a smile, and do your best to serve the customer well. Within reason.

    I just wish that a bit more power was held by staff to refuse truly ridiculous demands, and tell particularly rude and awful customers that they would “no longer be served today.” And that floor staff could do so in the knowledge that management would back them up, and that management could back them up in the knowledge that corporate would back them up.

    • staceyizme April 27, 2018, 11:51 am

      I think your idea is good in theory. The problem is in the practice of it. We still get people who want to ban moms for breastfeeding, ban people of color who aren’t sufficiently obsequious, refuse service to various demographics (police officers, bar patrons wearing MAGA hats, people wearing a rainbow pin or those with a disability). Since even well people can sometimes offend in one of these areas with a bit of ill considered speech or a roll of the eyes to the wrong person who has just HAD IT, managers need clear policies, staff need clear training and the act of banning someone should be done by higher ups, for the most part. Summoning police, banning clients or being selective in the implementation of policies ) because you don’t care for someone’s political or religious views happens on occasion. Starbucks and 2 African American clients, United and the doctor that was removed so a staff could have his seat, Applebees and 2 African American clients where they were falsely accused of dine and dash, the New York city bar and the MAGA hat, the school in the UK that uninvited their own pupil from field day because he was special needs are some recent examples. All this to say that customers should be considerate and staff should be mindful that “because I said so” or “because it’s our policy” isn’t always the best final answer.

      • EchoGirl April 28, 2018, 4:48 pm

        Agreed. I do think that the people who are actually customer-facing should be given a little more autonomy and authority to handle situations that are generally disruptive (for example, to refuse to give a discount/refund to someone who’s throwing a fit, and to ask that person to leave), but if that were to be the case, one would have to implement policies to make sure that said authority was being applied based on the actual conduct of the patrons and that workers’ biases (including those they might not even be fully aware of) wouldn’t cause them to single people out or to make assumptions about behavior based on stereotypes.

  • pennywit April 26, 2018, 1:56 pm

    Yes, OP, you were inconvenienced by the whole cell-phone thing. But is it really necessary to throw shade at the person ahead of you over her weight and her choice in nail polish? Or to treat us to your vision of an over-the-top, overweight woman monopolizing the manager’s time (because, of course, all overweight women are inconsiderate doofs)? You may very well feel you are the wronged party here (and you may be right in saying so), but that does not justify casting playing on stereotypes about weight and social class.

    But I am a gracious soul. If you refrain from casting aspersions at another person’s weight or nail polish — which are completely irrelevant to any breach of etiquette, then I will refrain from the similarly irrelevant practice of calling out the grammar error in your letter. After all, your grammar error is utterly irrelevant to the merits of your submission.

  • kingsrings April 26, 2018, 3:22 pm

    I agree with what all the others have said about the op’s body shaming comments. Completely rude!
    Getting to the topic at hand though, the drive-thru is for fast transactions only. That’s the whole reason drive-thrus were created in the first place. Any large or complicated orders need to be walked into the restaurant. Nothing annoys me more than being behind someone in a drive-thru who’s transaction is slow because they have a large order, a bunch of coupons, a long financial transaction, etc. That is being rude and inconsiderate.

    And if an in-store transaction takes long because of an issue and there’s a line, then stores need to have a plan in place to take care of the waiting customers. It’s rude to make others wait, and embarrassing to the customer who’s being waited on.

  • Jane April 26, 2018, 3:36 pm

    As others have said I am shocked at OP’s description of the woman. It was rude for the woman to hold up the line, but that doesn’t mean one should resort to attacking her appearance. Some grown women enjoy pink nail polish, it makes them happy to add a pop of colour, who are we to judge what makes someone happy? It was hard for me to have sympathy for OP after that.
    Also, OP seems to be assuming that this woman’s phone was just broken and she wanted a stranger to fix it for her. I often see people paying in the Starbucks line with their phones and assume it is a gift card on the app. That could have been the issue she was trying to have fixed as it was her only form of payment. I’m not saying it was right for her to hold up the line, and I do believe she should have pulled through and gone inside, however it seems to me that OP is allowing her preconsived perceptions of this woman to create a narrative about what kind of person she is, and in my mind that’s a breach of etiquette in of itself.

  • Danielle April 26, 2018, 3:55 pm

    If the OP thinks the drinks and pastries are overpriced, why are they in line to purchase them? Drinks and pastries can be bought in numerous other establishments.

    • Sarah April 27, 2018, 2:32 pm

      OP here.

      Lots of people keep saying this and I don’t get it. Hate/love is a thing, you can criticize something but still enjoy it. I do think Starbucks is overpriced, but if I’m in the mood for it, I’ll treat myself.

  • Despedina April 26, 2018, 4:42 pm

    Personally I think it should be illegal for restaurants to create drive throughs with no way out due to situations just like this. Maybe if the store loses business then they’ll stop holding up people for something that should be handled inside or at least at a parking space. In this case at 15 minutes I would have been getting out and walking to the window and asking what is going on.

    • dippy April 30, 2018, 8:02 am

      I agree. Years ago, we were stuck in a line at Steak & Shake for over an hour. I have never returned. I love their food, but that line haunts me.

  • Kimberly April 26, 2018, 4:58 pm

    I had what I thought was a similar situation a few months ago. The guy in front of me was on his phone and seemed to be talking to the speaker also. I was trying to get food to take to my niece before her volleyball team left on the bus to a game. After about 10 min, I wanted to just leave but was boxed in because of the design of the drive through. So I called the store and asked if they could move the guy forward and solve his problem elsewhere because there was a line into the street at this point. Their response – no-one is at the drive through. The bell had never gone off inside the store – the sensor was broken or something. They got us out pretty fast and gave everyone a discount.

  • NostalgicGal April 26, 2018, 5:11 pm

    Years ago a Mexican type food chain came out with this mini taco or burrito, 30 pack. Drive thru line wait time shot up astronomically. Inside they had people elbow to elbow at the assembly areas making all these teensy sized tacos. Human factory assembly line. If you went in to get anything to eat it took you awhile despite all that man and woman power in the kitchen prep area. Trust me, drive through times could easily go 20-25 minutes and inside, the roped off line that snaked up to the registers was always long. Corporate blew a cork about the manpower (wages) expenses going WAY up and the drive thru lines getting horrendous, and sent some fact finders out to visit a few restaurants, where they seen what was going on. Whether a tiny or full sized, each item took about the same time to make, and you get six in drive thru wanting 30 packs of the itty bitty tacos… suddenly those disappeared from all the menus and the insanity stopped. I personally quit going there until I heard they’d discontinued those menu items.
    Nearby the golden/red burger place had four slots for pull over from the drive thru line, and if there was ANY issue that was going to take more than a few minutes, they would make you pull over over there. Period. They might have to actually send a person to your car to bring your food order but you had to pull out of line. Or they wouldn’t serve you at all.

    • koolchicken April 30, 2018, 2:42 am

      I can’t eat at most of these fast food places. But eons ago, back before I got my diagnosis I used to rely on that golden/red burger place to keep my weight up. Given that I was there, a lot. I distinctly remember them having those special spaces even back then. I had been directed to them a time or two myself. That’s even as an individual, ordering a single meal, with no special modifications. If they made a mistake with an order, or there was an issue, even on their end, they’d ask you to go to one of the special spaces and when it was resolved the order would be brought out to you. To me, having something like this standard just makes sense. If you know it’s policy then people are less likely to fight it too!

  • lakey April 26, 2018, 6:01 pm

    I had similar incidents with drive through prescription pick up. I had been caring for my father who couldn’t be left alone. So I had to do all my errands including grocery shopping during a two hour period when a health care aide was with him. Every so often there would be someone ahead of me who was doing something much lengthier than just picking up a prescription and paying a copay. I would sit there and get more and more stressed out because I HAD to get a whole list of things done before 3 o’clock when the aide needed to leave.

    And, yes, the person working the window needs to tell the customer with a longer issue to park their car and come inside.

    • staceyizme April 27, 2018, 12:54 pm

      I feel your pain with respect to picking up prescriptions. All too often, however, I have found that the delay is occasioned by something not being done correctly. If the initial error is combined with a lack of training with respect to how it should be fixed, you’ve got a perfect storm and it’s going to be a long wait. The thing is- I’m not going to go inside and get in line again to resolve it. It’s the same question whether it’s inside at the pickup area or at the drive through window. When the issue is a lack of expertise, it’s incumbent on the vendor to bring in the pharmacist or a more knowledgeable tech to resolve the issue. I have driven off with the idea that I’ll return and “give you time to work on it”. But that’s my attempt to be mindful and it’s not a solution that I owe to the vendor because they can’t figure out a basic billing issue. It’s unfortunate that it would spill over on to other customers, but my special needs adult requires her medication in a timely fashion just as much as most seniors require theirs.

    • NostalgicGal April 27, 2018, 11:07 pm

      Then you get someone that pulls up, and hands over a shopping list. They’re physically able, but they think they can have someone shop for them WHILE THEY SIT THERE AT THE DRIVE THRU WINDOW. And get massively ticked off when told they have to come in and do it themselves… doesn’t matter if they’re in a hurry-the drive thru isn’t for concierge shopping. In cases of mobility issues someone in the store will shop for a customer but they still have to go in.

      Sometimes I do wish drive thru pharmacies would have a ‘will call’ window. You called it in or did it online, paid for it, and all you have to do is pick it up. That’s it.

      • lkb April 28, 2018, 7:31 am

        @NostalicGal: It’s my impression that that’s how drive-thru pharmacies were supposed to work: You drop off your prescription then come back later to pick it up (i.e., two quick trips). It’s the customers who have the idea it’s supposed to work like fast food. Unfortunately, with all the steps required to filling a prescription, it’s just not possible.

        • NostalgicGal April 30, 2018, 11:56 pm

          I have a niece who is a pharmacist that works at a well known drug store chain that has drive thru. They can fill prescriptions fairly fast, but the ones that irk them are ones that need a detailed consult with the pharmacist and won’t pull around and come in for the consult… or as said, ones that hand over a list and expect someone to shop FOR them while they wait. In line.

  • koolchicken April 26, 2018, 6:34 pm

    The comments regarding the appearance of the line hog were really uncalled for here. Yesterday I was stuck in line endlessly behind someone wearing something I wouldn’t be caught dead in. But is her appearance the reason for the hold up? Is commenting on it in such a snarky way really going to bring levity to the situation or make me seem more “right”? I painted my nails yesterday and they are Barbie pink. I go out of my way to ensure I never hog the cashier/secretary/attendant wherever I am and I pay attention to my surroundings. Style choices and behavior choices don’t always go hand in hand, just saying.

    Was this woman rude? You betcha! Was getting out of the car going to fix the situation? Maybe, maybe not. If it were me, and getting out of line was not possible, I’d have called the store at the 15 minute mark. I’d let them know I’m in line, cannot get out, and they need to help me. The staff needed to tell the customer other people in line are now calling as they’re being blocked. Direct them to come inside, or to simply leave. I truly believe some people don’t realize how much of a pest they’re being or how much time has passed. Those that do know but don’t care can be hard to deal with. But you can refuse service to anyone. If they persist, inform them you’re contacting the police as this is creating a traffic hazard, close the window, and refuse to engage. It’ll solve the problem one way or the other.

    • NostalgicGal April 27, 2018, 11:12 pm

      THIS! Oh man, this!!!!! Call the store if it’s taking forever and a year.

      Also I don’t like being in a line that long, idling, burning up a tank of gas, either. Some places I WISH they’d have an ‘abort’ exit where you could get OUT of the line and park and go in. Some places I will park every time and go in because the register inside will be faster than trying to go through their drive thru!

    • lkb April 28, 2018, 7:40 am

      It’s so easy to be snarky about people in stores wearing “something I wouldn’t be caught dead in.” Been there, done that, probably still do that. But the rest of us (me included) need to remember we don’t know the other person’s story: Maybe they’re in the fast-food line or the StuffMart check-out because they’ve been up all night with a sick child or elderly parent or… They, like us, just want to get their stuff and go home.
      Etiquette is all about kindness and consideration after all.

  • Ashley M April 26, 2018, 7:50 pm

    I almost stopped reading after the description of the woman’s arm. Like, it’s not relevant and it basically sets a super judgy tone for the rest of the story.

    But anyway, yeah it sucks and it’s why I always have my app ready to go before I get to the counter/window/whatever.

    And I’m just patient because nine times out of ten it’s NOT the place’s fault and I have bigger things to worry about.

  • Anonymous April 26, 2018, 7:59 pm

    Thanks to all of you who said (much better, btw) what I wanted to say about the judging going on in the OP’s story.

  • Princess Buttercup April 26, 2018, 9:51 pm

    First off, _never_ honk in the drive thru line. Never! That is so insanely rude. You do not know if the mic is currently activated and noises are going straight to an employees ear. Trust me, some rude jerk honking in drive thru will _hurt_ the employees and make them in no mood to do you any favors.

    Now days, with technology, an option would be to pull out your smart phone, look up the phone number for the restaurant and call and tell them you’re in drive thru and have been waiting for x minutes and wondering why the car that is blocking things up hasn’t been pulled out of line. A little reminder that is what they are supposed to be doing if a car is going to take very long. (Many restaurants want a car to be at the window less than a minute and a half. So if time logs are being taken a slow customer is ruining their numbers and making everyone there look bad.) This is why the drive thru is for customers who already know what they want and have a small and easy order. If you ever pull up and say “give me a minute to decide”, “I have multiple orders”, or are buying for more than a couple people, then you are being rude and everyone around you is cursing your existence.

    • staceyizme April 27, 2018, 1:06 pm

      I hesitate to appeal to another source on this august site, but the inimitable Judith Martin disagrees with you: https://www.uexpress.com/miss-manners/2016/10/20/1/large-orders-at-drive-thrus-are-not.

    • Anonymous April 27, 2018, 2:16 pm

      I don’t know that multiple orders are rude–maybe someone’s ordering for their whole family/group of people in the car, so as long as they can do it efficiently (e.g., “one Combo #3 with root beer, one Combo #5 with Coke, and one Combo #6 with Sprite, and could we please get extra napkins?”; as opposed to, “Jimmy, what do you want? A hamburger? And to drink? Coke? Okay, Sally, you want chicken nuggets, right?”; and so on). But, yeah, the polite way to use the drive-thru is for everyone in the car to decide what they want before pulling up to the speaker to order. That applies in a regular walking line too, but even more so in a drive-thru, because the people behind you might not be able to get out of line mid-stream, either to park and go inside, or leave the restaurant altogether.

    • NostalgicGal April 27, 2018, 11:17 pm

      I have a carful, we’re on our way to a road trip, and we’re stopping for a meal to go. In that case I will be doing a large order, but usually there’s a nice big menu before the speaker to allow one to have a look before getting to the speaker. We quickly doublecheck we got everything, and enough ketchup etc, then get out of there and on our way… that is what a drive thru is for. If there’s six people in the car it’s still going to be one order and we can sort out who owes what AFTERWARDS (aka only one payment at the window).

  • sillyme April 27, 2018, 1:01 pm

    For me, any sympathy I might have felt for your situation was undermined by:
    “thick and rolly arms of a middle-aged woman but the gaudy pink nail polish of a teenager” and ” I pictured a big, impetuous woman … ”

    Based on the tone, and I don’t know you I admit, but I’m picturing someone inclined to make immediate, harsh and critical judgments of people based on scant impressions of appearances and perceived social status.

  • Sarah April 27, 2018, 2:39 pm

    OP Here.

    I’m ashamed of the tone I decided to take for this story, which I submitted almost a year ago. I was not aiming for sympathy in the first place – this thing that happened to me was more weird and interesting to me than anything, and I honestly just wanted to know how others would react to a car line hold-up.

    My unflattering description of the lady did not come from any actual distaste for her. I just wanted to be descriptive, but my approach was really inappropriate and thoughtless. I just picked up some stereotypes and went with it, and I should have known better.

    When we submit these anecdotes to an etiquette site, I realize it’s best to remember we’re all talking about real people. A polite and relevant approach is best. I’ll remember this if I ever do this again.

    • lkb April 28, 2018, 7:36 am

      Again, thank you for the kind and thoughtful response. It takes courage, class, and humility to admit when one makes a mistake. You provided a wonderful example here.

    • Lenniemonster April 30, 2018, 3:27 am

      Hey OP, again I think people are a little thin skinned and so easily offended, its not even funny anymore.

      The snarky comments about your descriptive style are literally what people like Stephen Fry are talking about when they say- It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so ********** what”

      Obviously if you are spouting nasty belittling comments in a viscious manner ( nasty comments of special needs people,racial slurs, homophobic slurs, religious bigotry etc) that is a whole different kettle of fish. But over censoring a persons writing style, when it is generic descriptors, is going to end up giving us cut and paste books, magazines and articles, I said it above and I said it again – we are getting dystopian by being so sensitive to everything.

      • sillyme May 1, 2018, 12:12 pm

        Perhaps you’ve never experienced reading belittling insults about your own body type or age masquerading as “sarcasm” or “wit.” True humor should leave us elevated and perhaps even a little enlightened.

        As someone who experiences perceptions that I am stupid, lazy, uneducated, etc., based on my body type and looks, as someone who experiences co-workers’ direct or passive-aggressive commentaries on my food and exercise (I do diet and exercise and I am in pain every day), as someone who has had doctors dismiss important medical problems as a matter of “eating too much” (I ended up in an emergency room in IV antibiotics which I believe, as a layperson, has nothing to do with my weight), I can promise you that the matter is a bit more substantial than being thin-skinned. Such comments are an unkind reminder of how dismissively and insultingly the world views overweight people, many of whom experience obesity as a result of illness, injury, medication or trauma.

        Please feel free to don a “fat-suit” and wander about the world for a few days, then let me know your experiences and how “thin-skinned” you may feel.

        • admin May 3, 2018, 6:48 am

          I think you and others are making more of an issue of what the OP wrote than it needs to be. And I say that as a BBW. We make choices to be offended and while I noted the OP’s description as irrelevant to the etiquette point she was making, I chose to not be offended by it. It was a description of the driver that did not make a general statement about all large women.

      • Eleanor May 1, 2018, 1:16 pm

        No one here is doing any ‘censoring’. Many commenters gave reasons for their dislike, not just offering ‘that was offensive’. You seem to be suggesting that people be dissuaded from voicing their disagreement when they read something they find unpleasant or judgemental, even if- as here- it is expressed with politeness and reason. This would result in an inherently unbalanced one-sided conversation.
        The OP has responded in a sensitive and pleasant manner and been commended for it by several commenters who took issue with the original post; it is an ongoing exchange of views, not a slanging match.

        You are not the sole arbiter of what is and what isn’t nasty or belittling and even the ‘easily offended’ get to speak up if they choose.

        • EchoGirl May 8, 2018, 4:13 pm

          Yeah, this bothers me too. The term “censorship” refers to suppression or prohibition of an idea, not disapproval or contradiction. It seems like the flip side of the “people are too easily offended” conversation is the idea that anything but giving someone carte blanche to say whatever they want is censoring them. Saying “I’d really appreciate if you would think about how using that language might feel for someone who’s been painted with that stereotype” is not censorship, it’s asking someone to consider the impact of their words and consider making a different choice.

          I also agree with you about standards. Ehell itself isn’t bad about this, but in the discourse over this in general, I run into a lot of people who whine about “how easily offended” people are and then turn around and throw a fit if someone says something that offends them. (I also tend to find that people sometimes use “not conforming to offense culture” as a shield to say hurtful things and then belittle the feelings they’ve hurt by claiming the person was just “offended”.)