Ask LH: Is It Appropriate To Ask A Fast Food Cashier Out On A Date?

Ask LH: Is It Appropriate To Ask A Fast Food Cashier Out On A Date?
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Dear Lifehacker, I am desperately in need of some relationship advice. I am infatuated with a young lady who works at a fast food outlet I frequent. I am forty-one and have never had any kind of a relationship or even been on a date. I had viral encephalitis at 14 which pretty much destroyed my self esteem, but I’ve decided to stop procrastinating and get on with my life. I really want to ask her out, but it’s an extremely difficult situation because she is behind the counter or around other staff 99% of the time! What do you think I should do? Thanks, Worried Admirer

Dear WA,

It’s great that you’ve overcome your personal issues to get yourself out there. As the adage goes, it’s never too late to find love! With that said, the current object of your affection probably isn’t the best place to start.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to refrain from pursuing this person. For starters, most hospitality workers don’t enjoy being chatted up on the job. When you order food from a cashier, you are taking part in a business transaction. Adding romantic overtures to the exchange is pretty inappropriate, even in the unlikely event that your feelings are requited.

There’s also the age gap to consider. While I won’t speculate on the young lady’s age, I’m going to assume you’re significantly older than her. This makes propositioning her for a date even more inappropriate.

Plus, if she rejects your advances, it will doubtlessly make future interactions awkward. The embarrassment might even force you to go elsewhere to buy food. (On a side note, “infatuated” is a pretty unhealthy way to describe someone you barely know.)

My advice is to put her out of your head and take a look at some online dating apps instead. The stigma that was once attached to these services has completely disappeared in recent years. There’s absolutely no shame in attempting to find your significant other this way – indeed, many single people vastly prefer it to “traditional” dating. A lot of these services are also free to use.

There are dedicated dating apps for almost every conceivable customer, from fans of literature (Alikewise) and pet-lovers (DateMyPet) to beard-fetishists (Bristlr) and gluten-free singles (GlutenFreeSingles). Then of course, there are all the usual suspects such as, Tinder and OkCupid (you can read an in-depth review all three here.). Concentrate on one or join ’em all: nobody can judge you if you don’t tell.

If you don’t know much about online dating, you can find out all the basics — including the pros and cons — via our introductory guide. You might also want to check out these tips for crafting a good online dating profile. As with most things in life, the trick is to not put all your eggs in one basket and above all else, persevere.

Cheers Lifehacker

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • Once upon a time (I’m old) I asked more than a few waitresses/checkout chicks/service, er, people out. Rejection or awkwardness were the common responses.

    I did get to know a girl that served me at Maccas regularly and we went on a few dates but it fizzled – and it was awkward going back there after.

    It’s safer to think of the people that serve you like work colleagues – and the old adage applies – Don’t screw the crew!

  • Who does it hurt, if you are a gentleman and treat her with respect, go for it. She may feel awkward, but it might also give her an emotional boost too, so long as you don’t make a dick of yourself and get all in her face if she says no.

  • I think it’s fine in principle if you think that they may be interested (though I totally get that people on registers get hit on all the time), but everything about this makes me think you really shouldn’t. “Young lady”, “infatuated”, “41”. I think you may need to look elsewhere my friend.

    • You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t pursue, and this comment makes me think your social ciew is askew. A 100 year old man has every right to pursue an 18 year old girl. If you don’t want that to happen, push for laws against it. Right now, unless she’s below the age of 18, he has every right to pursue her.

      • I’m not saying you can’t do it. There doesn’t need to be a law against. Just don’t act surprised when your not welcome at that store anymore because they think your a creep.

      • There is a high chance she is under 18 if ‘a young lady’ and working at a fast food outlet.
        My 14 year old daughter works that kind of job and is relentlessly hit on, and she hates it.

    • I think the key thing is getting a feel for whether she’s being friendly because it’s her job or whether she’s being friendly because she actually likes you. This may sound creepy, but it’d be worth subtly watching her interactions with other customers. Then mentally compare them with her interactions with you. If they’re the same, well she’s just being nice to customers and you’re just another customer.

      On the other hand, if she’s genuinely different when she interacts with you. Then it’s possible she does like you and it may be worth the risk of asking her out. But as the article and lots of posts point out, don’t be surprised or upset if she knocks you back.

      • Definitely not. If she’s in a professional environment then she’s probably putting on a facade with colleagues also. Look elsewhere, don’t hit on people who just want to get on with their day. That’s what social groups, clubs and bars are for.

  • The answer to the original question should be a resounding “NO” – as Lifehacker points out, it’s a business transaction, and bringing other stuff into it is not only unprofessional (for both you and the fast food employee) it’s terribly creepy.

    Women have to put up with a LOT of creepiness, fear and sexism in this world of ours – it’d be nice if they could avoid it in their place of work with customers.

    • Yeah, wrong. You can’t get a life partner if you never pursue one. This particular environment is the only one that he might ever see this lady. If he feels a connection, he should pursue it. If he has the confidence to put himself out there, then she should be able to respond to that however she sees fit in kind. Do you only pursue people you’ve known for years? I don’t, and that sounds like a super toxic way to live.

      • It isn’t about only pursuing people you have known for years, it is about having some empathy and being appropriate.
        Cashiers and people in the service industry get very, very high levels of harrassment. They are nice to people because it is their job, and a lot of people misread that as interest in them.
        They are expected to make eye contact, smile, look accomodating, but they really do cop so much, that asking them out in their place of work, in a very public space is really a crappy thing to do, and also very selfish.

        Also, you barely know a single thing about them, the workplace is for work, there are such a massive amount of social situations were it is fine to ask someone out, but the workplace, while the person is very busy trying to get their job done is not one of them.

        • You have some good points, but I’d like to say this. If he does ask her out then he should absolutely bear in mind that she is working. So do it at a quiet time when she’s not being rushed to deal with a heap of other customers or got her boss/coworkers in her ear. Not like it’d be possible to ask her out privately, but try to make it as private as possible.

  • If there is a friendly connection there I think it is acceptable. Asking someone out isn’t wrong.

    Now that I read the article and think about it I have met one ex-gf who worked at a coffee shop and served me (she handed me her mobile to put my number in), hooked up with a Maccas girl (who I saw out at a club), yet another maccas girl flirted with me at the counter multiple times but I never went there unfortunately. This was when I was young but don’t let your age deter you.
    Confidence is hard to muster and sometimes rejection is hurtful but sometimes if you try you might land something good.
    Just be genuine, friendly and nice, not creepy or come on strong. If you like this person then you should be able to try.
    Good luck!

    • Coming on strong isn’t a horrendous attribute. I have a tendency to come on strong and I haven’t had any problems. Confidence is key, and if you can’t muster the confidence to muster through rejection then it’ll only make things awkward. Things are only awkward if you let them become awkward.

      • There’s a difference between being confident and being overwhelming. I think when people talk about “coming on too strong” they’re referring to the latter. Stuff like “I’m not leaving til you agree to go out with me” is a good example.

  • Despite everything that was said both in article and comments, I say go for it. Love has no boundaries, be it age or something else. If you don’t try, you don’t win.

    But, be smart about it. Slip her a note, explaining you like her and all. Include your email and phone number. That way you save embarrassment to both of you, if she says no and allow her to make the choice. Women dig that.

    Good luck!

  • Wow. I just want to say that as long as you are above the age of 18, you are legally able to consent to anything except alcohol in the U.S., and that “creepy” or “weird” are things that people ascribe to others that they don’t find attractive that pursue them, or pyscopaths and the actions of serial killers. That being said, you told this man to pursue someone else when he chose someone that caught his interest after decades of self destruction. I honestly say go for it. If you can portray yourself as someone that isn’t bothered by rejection, and that can shrug off any future awkwardness, asking her out shouldn’t be a problem. The very worst possibility is that she says no. You dont have to change addresses or places to eat just because someone isn’t interested in you. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Lifehack, I admired what you did, and enjoyed what I have seen, but to me you seem like life sabotage. Sure, online dating is fine, but are you saying this man should hole himself up in his basement waiting for the famed “like” instead of pursuing basic human interaction?

  • From everything that I have seen on this thread, I am clearly more adept at love and pursuit than all of you. Love is a battlefield, and if you can’t even participate in the war, don’t even try. I have seen ugly people get beautiful people and vice versa. If you feel like someone is out of your league, push your confidence to the level of attractiveness that you find them. If you want someone just for sex, leave them alone unless that’s how they want you. Everyone has their own special preference and believes that they are their own special snowflake. Cater to that need. Make the object of your pursuit feel special. Be confident. If you can’t ever make the object of your pursuit feel like they are the only person in existence 100% of the time, give up. You aren’t worth their time. However, if you can, and you feel like you can make them immeasurably happy, go for it! This is only for the pursuit of love and not hook ups. If you want to hook up with someone, be confident, play coy, be charming or seductive, and play mind games or be clever.

  • Sure fire way to be successful in every relationship you ever pursue: become worldly. Become wise. Learn another language. become witty. Be attractive. Become confident. Become physically fit. The only thing you can’t change about yourself is the physical appearance you were born with unless you get surgeries. Don’t value yourself by physical appearance. Value yourself on your intelligence, work ethic, and confidence. Michael Phelps is gross in the face, but he has the physique of Poseidon. He gets people through fame and body. Work with what you have and not what you want to have, but strive to make what you want to have reality.

  • Also there’s the thing where the asker has never been in a romantic relationship or a date. I could conceive an extremely confident person asking a cashier on a date and actually managing to get it. But for someone stumbling and stuttering for the first time? Yeah no. I endorse the online dating advice. It will allow the asker to ease himself in asking for dates and how to flirt, etc.

  • lol this thread is worth it for ‘Lemons’ psychopathic, self-aggrandising overcompensation alone.
    Biggest creep and doesn’t even know it.
    ‘the absolute worst is that they say no’.
    Actually, when they say ‘no’ to you, they’re definitely talking to their friends later about how much of a creep you are, and cringe internally whenever they see you next.
    ‘It’s not awkward unless you make it awkward’.
    What a complete narcissistic way to view the world. You realise people have emotions independent of yours, correct? It can 100%, absolutely be awkward for someone else, even if it isn’t for you.
    The fact that you love yourself so much doesn’t mean you’re not a creep – it means you most likely are.

    If the cashier likes him, then she’s more than capable of writing her number on the receipt. I’ve had this happen to me on a few occasions. Contrary to what you believe, women aren’t breathlessly waiting for you to throw yourself onto them in order for them to express interest.

    lol how ridiculous your opinion is.

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