It wasn’t until the front driver side window on my 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera got jammed last summer that I realized I could fatten my wallet by waiting on fast food drive-thru lines.
Most people sit in their cars and casually roll down their windows when cruising up to the fast food drive-thru cashier at fine establishments like Taco Bell, McDonalds, Wendys or Burger King.
I used to do that too, but my jammed window forced me to put my car in park and physically get out of my car to hand payment to the fast food workers who man the drive-thru window cashiers.
I was a bit annoyed the first time I had to do that, as I lost the convenience factor of being able to sit in my car and have someone hand me my food order.
But by getting out of my car to hand payment for my food to the cashier the first time after my window got stuck, I found two quarters, a nickel and three pennies sitting neatly on the pavement right in front of the drive-thru window. The shiny coins seemed to be patiently waiting for me, just calling to be scooped up by the first person to see them.
58 cents might not sound like a lot, but it was essentially “free money” that I immediately picked up and applied to my three dollar order from this particular food establishment.
I quickly realized that this was not just my one lucky day, as I have never found less than 35 cents any of the times I have physically gotten out of my car to pay for my food on a drive-thru fast food line.
I didn’t really understand why there was so much money just laying around on the ground at every fast food drive-thru lane I went through, until I gave it some deeper thought. Think about how many cars pass through a drive-thru fast food line in a given day. Each one of those cars is making a transaction – many of which include handing cash to a cashier, and having change being given back in return.
While people are anxious to get their food, and fumbling around with sodas, napkins and condiments, there appears to be plenty of instances when some of the change handed back to them simply falls through their fingertips.
I’m sure some of the patrons realize they may have dropped a couple coins, while others may not have noticed at all. But what percentage of them will care enough to physically get out of their cars to pick up a couple of coins that may have fallen to the pavement during their fast food drive-thru transaction?
I believe the answer is “not much.” Even if I get fast food once a day and find just 50 cents each time, that comes to an extra 14 dollars a month. Over the course of a year, it works out to close to $170 in profit.
Eric Holden, a lifelong New York resident, is a big fan of fast food establishments like Taco Bell, Wendys, Burger King and McDonalds.