Can you order from a drive-thru without a car?

September 9, 2011 — by McKenna Galvin

It was a sunny Thursday afternoon as I left school and started to make my way home. Thirsty, I decided to stop by the McDonald’s on De Anza before heading back, thinking that some lemonade would be perfect before a long night of studying. There was no line at the drive-thru, so I happily went on up and looked at the menu, pondering what drink to get.

It was a sunny Thursday afternoon as I left school and started to make my way home. Thirsty, I decided to stop by the McDonald’s on De Anza before heading back, thinking that some lemonade would be perfect before a long night of studying. There was no line at the drive-thru, so I happily went on up and looked at the menu, pondering what drink to get.

Only one thing was missing from this scenario: a car.

I had heard before about people who were able to go through drive-thrus in cardboard cars, bikes, or just by walking, and here was my opportunity to see if I too could do the same. With the absence of a huge line or big crowd, I knew that this was a perfect opportunity to see if such a thing could actually be done.

I stood next to the menu, realizing after a few seconds that I was going to have to be the first one to speak.

“Hello?” I cautiously asked, curious of the reaction I would receive.

Unfortunately, whoever was taking orders that day was clearly not amused. After a few moments, I finally got a response.

“You can’t stand in the driveway. It’s not allowed,” said an annoyed female voice. No Hi, what can I get for you today?, no How are you doing?—Just a blunt warning to go away.

Although disappointed, I knew that there was no point in arguing; this lady was not going to let me through. Well, so much for that, I thought, and disheartened, I made my way back home. I didn’t see what the big deal was, especially when there was barely anyone there and I wasn’t causing a disturbance.

When I got home, I contacted customer service, curious as to why they would care whether I walk through a drive-thru or not.

“You may be interested to know that McDonald’s values the safety of our customers,” said the email they sent me. “As such, for safety reasons, McDonald’s policy states that customers who walk up or arrive on bicycles to the Drive-thru windows should not be served at the windows. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.”

So there you have it: a harmless attempt at some fun thwarted by a company unwilling to be liable should a car kill me as I walk through. While the chances of this happening are slim to none, it does protect the company from losing a few million dollars in court if this were to actually happen. And since the drive-thru is not on a public road, McDonald’s is allowed to have every say over what does and does not happen on its property.

While my attempt was unsuccessful, I wouldn’t rule out walking through one as a possibly. As long as you find the right combination of an employee that isn’t too rigid and a location that isn’t too crowded, there’s bound to be a drive-thru that will let you walk through. But for now, I’ll just stick to driving my car.

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