Carryout Etiquette, Part 1

July 15, 2009

Today’s an off day for me, so I thought I’d take the time to educate you on a few rules regarding carryout etiquette. This post is part 1 because I may have more to add at a later date. Also, this post’s another long one, so look out.

Carryout is pretty much the bottom of the barrel as far as restaurants go. That means I get to deal with a lot of shit that people wouldn’t dream of doing to a server. I think people have a lot of confusion about carryout in general, so hopefully these rules will help clear some of that up. I would also like to note that The Restaurant, as in all things, does carryout a little differently than other places, so some of these rules might not apply in all situations. So, without further ado…

Carryout Etiquette

1. Carryout is not the same as a fast-food drive-thru! If you order real food from a real restaurant, even via carryout, it’s going to take some time to cook. If you order milkshakes from a restaurant that can actually advertise them as milkshakes, that means they’re made with real ice cream and real milk, by hand. This also takes time and it’s messy, so if you order 7, do not bitch at me that Dairy Queen is faster.

2. If you have a large order, call it in first. Do not camp my window. I cannot stress this enough. Sitting at the window waiting for your 12 kids chicken fingers and 4 medium-well steaks wastes your time, stresses me out, and potentially wastes other customers’ time as well. Especially by sitting at the carryout window, you are potentially making someone who wants a freaking chocolate milkshake wait 30 minutes or more. You’re also preventing people who already have their orders ready from getting their food unless they’re smart enough to come inside.

3. If you’re stuck behind a camper waiting for your order, come inside to retrieve it! And do not bitch at me about how long it’s taking! The best I can do is ask a camper to move up if they see someone pull in behind them, and a lot of entitlement junkies won’t do that. Your food is ready—you can take twenty steps from your car to the restaurant and come get it yourself. We don’t run curbside service here, folks.

4. If you’re camping, and you see someone come up behind you, pull up and let them get their order. 10 to 1 their order is smaller and will be done before yours, or it’s already done.

5. DO NOT honk at me. EVER. I take my job very seriously. If I am not at the window immediately, I’m most likely getting another order, dealing with the register for in-store customers trying to pay and leave, or I’m on the phone. Honking to get my attention is extremely rude and guarantees that I will make your order my lowest priority and may lead to me “forgetting” the butter for your rolls or the ketchup for your fries.

6. Know what you want before you order! Would you tell a server you’re ready to order and then continue to study the menu for 10 minutes? Actually, from what I’ve read, some people would. That aside, the same rule applies here. I am essentially working three jobs—carryout, phone service, and the cash register. I do not have all day to wait for you to make up your mind or to answer fifty zillion questions about the menu only to have you decide you don’t want anything

7. Do not ask me how much the total is right after you order, or try to hand me your credit card/cash right after you order. This rule may apply to The Restaurant and possibly other small restaurants only. The reason for this is I have to total the bill by hand. While I have many individual prices memorized, mental arithmetic is not a talent of mine, and I do have to look up the more infrequently ordered items. If you thrust cash or a card at me, I’m just going to shut the window and walk away.

8. Show up when you’re told to show up! Do not show up when you think your food should be ready. If I tell you it’s going to be about 10 minutes, it’s not going to be 5 minutes and it’s not going to be half an hour. It’s going to be about 10 minutes. I understand being caught in traffic and other such situations—if you let me know of these in advance, I will be more than happy to put your cold items in the freezer or wait to start your order.

9. When it comes time to pay, I am not a bank—do not foist all your spare change on me. First of all, carryout isn’t taxed because what I do is not considered “service.” At least at The Restaurant, this means all of our prices end in .x5 or .x0. Do not give me your pennies—I don’t have anywhere to fucking put them in the till to begin with. Do not hold me up trying to count out $.65 in dimes, pennies, and nickels. It’s rude and inefficient, and when I’m busy, efficiency is the name of the game.

10. You don’t have to tip the carryout girl. But it’s nice and I do appreciate it. If you plan on regularly coming for carryout, and you tip, you will forever get my absolute best service, even if I’m swamped. I am at the bottom rung of the foodservice industry, but I bust my ass every day I work to give you the best possible service, and it feels good to be appreciated—even if you just tell me to keep the change from your milkshake.

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4 Responses to “Carryout Etiquette, Part 1”

  1. AK Says:

    You definitely deserve to be tipped for dealing with that!

  2. Craig Says:

    Pennies are legal tender. The problem is more that they exist than that people pay with them. I suggest you bring a big jar, label it “PENNIES” in the most obnoxious way you can, and show it you your manager at the end of the shift (with a smile); hopefully it will encourage them to invest in penny storage.

    As a consumer though, if I have a bill that comes to 10.85 and I have 85 cents, I don’t really want to hand you a 10 and a 1. What the hell else am I going to use my 85 cents for?

    Nonetheless, change sucks.

    • eternalcarryoutgirl Says:

      You don’t have to hand me the ten and the one. But don’t count out $.20 in pennies when there’s a line behind you!

  3. SkippyMom Says:

    These are all great, but I really beg to differ on the final one. Being a former waitress I say YES, YOU DO have to tip the carryout person. There is a lot that goes into putting together an order from a restaurant [that is fastfodd] that you wouldn’t otherwise do. There is presentation, condiments and utensils to be packaged. Not to mention I bet those milkshakes [tho’ delicious I want one now :)] are a bitch to make – so yes, I say tip and tip well.

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