A Simple Thank You. It’s All I Ask.

How many times a week do you take advantage of a drive-thru? More specifically, for a coffee or a quick bite?

How often do you tip at a drive-thru?

I’ve always felt odd tipping at a drive-thru. McDonald’s doesn’t expect a tip from me. Neither does Wendy’s. Nor Burger King. But Starbucks has their tip jar in prominent display. And the Sonic Drive-Ins in our area recently posted reminders to tip your drive-thru attendant, just as you would the carhop.

I proudly call myself thrifty. I blame my Scottish heritage. But I waited tables in college and think of myself as a generous tipper. I know, firsthand, how hard the job is.

But the drive-thru? You stand there. Take the order. Possibly walk 3 steps to reach the order that has been prepared for you/me and then hand it to me through a window.

And by the way, that’s your job.

There wasn’t any extra service involved. You didn’t refill my drinks, take away dirty dishes, check to make sure my burger was cooked to order. You simply took my order and handed me my order. Oh. And took my money.

My husband always tips you. He has shamed me into tipping you, too. And so, I do. Reluctantly. But never more reluctantly until now.

Recently, in the past three months or so, I’ve noticed an air of expectance when you are handing me my change. And so, I tip. And then you say, “Have a great day!”

How about “Thank you?”

Thank you is the proper response when someone gives you a gift. And that’s what a tip is. A gift. I don’t have to give it to you. Especially at a drive-thru. But I do. So, I, the generous customer, give you a little extra money for the amazing 38 seconds that I spend with you. You, in turn, should reply, at the very least, “Thank you.”

I’ve been keeping track of how many “thank yous” I receive when I give a tip at a drive-thru for the past two months. Of the eleven visits for coffee or milkshakes for the kids at Sonic or lunch at our local country cafe with a drive-thru, I’ve received one thank you.



Thank you.

It’s not hard. It takes less than one second to say.

Instead of a thank you, I’ve received “Have a great day!,” “Come again!” and a tip of the head and a smile. But nary a thank you.


Common courtesy and graciousness is dying a slow death.

Even in the South.


Filed under Observations, Soapbox

7 responses to “A Simple Thank You. It’s All I Ask.

  1. I don’t often go through a drive-through, but I have never left a tip at one. Never! I have often wondered about tipping when we pick up a take-out order at a restaurant. Usually, I add a tip, even though I haven’t received any service.

    Tips are a gift! You are so right – that deserves a ‘thank you’ – and, in my opinion, a smile. If they didn’t learn it from their parents, you would think that people working in the service industries would get a few lessons in customer relations from their managers. Maybe they are taught to say ‘Have a nice day’ in their employee training, but not ‘thank you’.

    As for common courtesy and manners? It seems there is a whole generation out there that doesn’t understand ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. People feel so entitled these days. But, before I generalize and slam a whole generation, I do know a lot of young people with very good manners. (That made me feel so old.)

  2. Jayne

    I wouldn’t feel obliged to give a tip. I’m with you, as far as I’m concerned tips at eating establishments are a service charge and a drive-thru hardly constitutes a dining experience – fine, or otherwise. However if you want to continue with this (and it’s probably wise lest they spit in Miss Meanies coffee) then I have to say that ‘Have a great day’ would happily suffice for me. Seriously, get served by the average, ubiquitous, sullen, apparently dopey teenage till-monkey Brit who can’t seem to string a sentence together and you’ll understand why a smile and ‘Have a nice day’ is all I need to send me happily on my way! 🙂

  3. I have never left a tip at a drive-through, even though I see the Starbucks one sitting there all the time. Here is the thing: If I don’t tip when I go in to Starbucks, why would I tip in the drive-through? I am also a generous tipper at restaurants, salons, and the like, but Starbucks? Really? Um, no. I think that is overkill.

  4. I think drive-thru tip jars are crazy. I see no reason for them at all! A simple thank you is just enough! Great post! 🙂

  5. We don’t do too much drive-thru and the one I frequent most doesn’t have a tip jar. There’s one drive-thru Starbucks that I hit up about once a month and the baristas there are usually so enthusiastic and friendly – and, yes, grateful for my business – that I often do leave the change from my order in the tip jar.

    Here’s the thing I find awkward about tip jars in general (and I think there was a sitcom episode where this factored, maybe Seinfeld?): am I the only one who wants to make sure the server sees me put the money in the tip jar so that I can get “credit” for leaving a tip? (Not sure what that says about me and my need to please…)

  6. Not going to tip while going through a drive-thru. Not going to do it. Have considered not going through drive-thrus at all. Diet would go better. Life would be cheaper. Hmmmm…a thought.

  7. I wish I had a “Like” button to press for all of these comments. It’s so good to know I’m not alone!

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