I Used To Work At A Tim Hortons Drive-Thru & Here Are 6 Things You Should Never, Ever Do

I'm still not over it. 😩

Toronto Staff Writer
Patrick sitting in a car. Right: A Tim Hortons drive-thru.

Patrick sitting in a car. Right: A Tim Hortons drive-thru.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

If you grew up in Ontario, chances are you've gone through a Tim Hortons drive-thru too many times to count.

Everybody knows the deal — you pull up to the intercom, say your bit, collect some donuts and be on your merry way.

Simple, right? Yes. However, as a former Tim Hortons employee, I can tell you that people mess up that process all the damn time.

So, to illuminate people on what I think are the biggest drive-thru sins, I decided to create a list of things I would never do as an ex-team member.

Piqued your interest? Take a look.

Smoke cigarettes while grabbing coffee

Look, everybody's got a vice. If yours is huffing darts all day, all the power to you, friend — sincerely, a former smoker. However, there is proper etiquette.

I can't tell you how many drive-thru shifts involved me inhaling someone's second-hand smoke while I handed them their coffee.

I get that nicotine and caffeine are breakfast 101 for some, but thrusting your life choices on someone making minimum wage is a bad look.

To me, choosing to light up a smoke while you're going through a Tim Hortons drive-thru is a choice that only the self-involved or oblivious make, and I don't think anybody wants to belong to either of those camps.

Yell into the Tim Hortons drive-thru intercom like a drill sergeant

Look, I shouldn't have to tell people that yelling their coffee order at someone is a bad idea — no matter the setting — but here we are.

To be clear, I don't think you should whisper into the intercom like an ASMR YouTuber either.

But those drive-thru headsets were mad sensitive when I worked there. One second, you're boxing donuts. The next, you're having your eardrums destroyed by someone shouting their order at you like it's day one of boot camp.

Super unnecessary.

Just speak clearly and concisely when you pull up. They'll hear you, and you'll avoid giving the person on the other end mild tinnitus for the rest of their life.

Tossing change at the Tim Hortons employee

Now, when I say "toss," I'm not using it as slang for "handing over," I mean straight-up throwing stuff.

As a Tim Hortons drive-thru employee, I had countless people chuck their dimes and nickels through the window at me as if that was an acceptable way to pay.

Some loose change would almost always bounce off the counter and onto the floor as a result, where I'd be expected to pick it up and count it.

Now, most of these people had the decency to apologize afterwards, which is better than nothing. But, at the end of the day, they were adults and should've known better.

Their lack of thoughtfulness irks me to this day. So, please, just don't.

Not exchanging any pleasantries

Look, not everybody is an extrovert. I respect that. I hate small talk almost as much as I despise pop radio, and that's saying a lot.

But the worst part of working in the service industry, especially when making minimum wage, is how dehumanizing it can feel.

I handed many a person a Tim Hortons coffee through a window while I worked there, only to be greeted with silence.

I don't think most people realize how much their lack of participation in this world affects those around them.

Humans need connection. They need to be seen. You're robbing someone of that every time you fail to ask the person serving your coffee a simple "how are you?"

Being impatient after ordering a lot

Picture this. You're stressing out hard. You forgot it was your turn to pick up Timmies for your co-workers, and you're already late.

Out of frustration, you decide to berate the Tim Hortons employees in front of you for not getting the eight coffees and several boxes of donuts you ordered quickly enough.

I mean, don't they realize you're having a bad day?

Maybe, but that's not their problem, and they certainly don't deserve to have your baggage dumped on them because you didn't bother to update your calendar.

I often endured this situation or others like it while working the drive-thru. Back then, it frightened me to see an adult who wasn't my mom get visibly upset with me. Now it just makes me mad.

Don't be that person.

Talking too much at the Tim Hortons employee

Remember when I said you should aspire to connect with the person serving you? Well, there's a limit.

If you want to chit-chat about the weather while the drive-thru exchange is taking place, have at it. But if you're looking for conversation, please call up a friend.

During my Tim Hortons tenure, people trapped me in all sorts of discussions, from holiday plans to arguments with their spouses, all while I was trying to serve them and fifty other people.

In short, it only takes one oblivious oversharer to back up a line, and you don't want that to be you.

I hope this offers you a look behind the curtain of what the day-to-day life of a Tim Hortons worker can look like — bonus points if you gained some empathy.

Patrick John Gilson
Toronto Staff Writer
Patrick John Gilson is a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada’s Ontario Desk focused on Ontario gas prices and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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