It’s something we’ve all experienced. The only thing capable of diminishing the thrill of finally reaching the front of the busy fast food line is being asked to park and wait for your order instead of it being handed to you at the window.
But why are fast food drive-thru goers asked to park when there isn’t a line?
A viral video posted to TikTok on Jan. 23 raised the issue, to which several restaurant workers responded that it’s all in the timing.
“I’ll never understand why McDonalds will make me wait in a parking spot for my food when there was only one car in line,” TikToker Kat (@kat71766) wrote in her video’s text overlay. The video has been viewed 254,000 times since it was first posted.
Some viewers agreed that it was a frustrating experience. “I only have a problem with this if I’m the only person in line,” user @tj.owens30 wrote. “I shouldn’t have to park if there’s no one behind me.”
@kat71766 Never understand this #fyp #mcdonalds ♬ original sound – Pink Floyd
Another viewer described being asked to park and wait for their order as their “last straw with mcd’s.”
“Expensive and slow,” they wrote. “And I have to back out of a parking space after using the dt—never again.”
One former fast food worker said customers being asked to wait in a parking space may be due to the speed at which the store’s workers prepare food. “One answer: because they’re SLOW,” user @souljaseventysix wrote. “I worked at fast food for YEARS and it should take no longer than 2 mins to get food to customer.”
“One time i waited 40 minutes in that spot for my mcflurry because they forgot about me and i was too anxious to go in and say something,” one viewer shared.
Fast food employees provided a simple explanation for Kat. Sensors located in the drive-thru monitor the workers’ speed of service, and the longer cars wait there, the higher their order times creep.
“We’re timed for every car the moment you drive up to order to the moment you drive away from the window,” user @alex.loisfell shared. “It’s to keep us from getting in trouble.”
Kat responded to their comment, stating she was “genuinely curious” about the method.
“I will always wait for a McDonald’s coke haha,” she replied with a heart Emoji.
The Daily Dot reached out to Kat via TikTok direct message.