Whenever I go out to eat at a fast food restaurant or cafeteria, I order a drink. The drink comes in a paper cup, which is located behind the counter. The cashier hands me the paper cup, holding it by the rim, where my mouth is supposed to go. This is unsanitary, especially since they are handling money. I am trying to prevent this from happening.

One obvious solution is to use a straw; however, there aren’t actually straws at the cafeteria where I work. And I cannot grab my own cup, as they are behind the counter.

How can I tactfully stop the cashier from putting their hands where my mouth goes on the rim of the cup?

  • Is the drink hot or cold? If its cold I suspect asking might be less difficult than if it is hot and not holding the rim would cause the cashier to burn themselves.
    – Vality
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 22:01
  • @Vality it is an empty cup. Self service.
    – Evorlor
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


I’m also a germ and sanitary conscientious person and understand your reasoning. But for these types of situations, there really isn’t much you can do without potentially upsetting someone.

Any food service place has a protocol and dedicated system governing how they behave. As a customer or user, you really don’t have much say over this. That’s the downside towards utilizing these services.

Workers aren’t very aware of germs like this and are more focused in servicing customers quickly. The only way to prevent them from putting their hands around the rim is to tell them beforehand. You can say:

Could you make sure you grab the cup by the hold instead? Thanks.

They might insinuate that you’re telling them their hands are dirty and they’re unclean. Prepare for a response where they might be offended.

You can always grab a towel or such to wipe it down afterwards, or even carry a straw. If you’re comfortable being “that customer” and don’t mind asking for your own tailored service then by all means go for it. Otherwise, it’d be best to avoid it because some workers might get offended.

  • 1
    "By the hold"? I'm sorry but I'm not quite sure what that means. Some cups have handles but not usually on paper cups.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 3:36
  • @Catija for lack of a better term; a portion of the cup that you grasp, the cylinder walls, a holding location :P
    – Anilla
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 3:39
  • 2
    Holding it by the hold is going to be tricky if the cups are stacked, which paper ones tend to be. Only the rim is usually exposed in a stack.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 7:37
  • 7
    @Erik if they stacked the cups upside down, which they should for hygiene to stop stuff falling into them, then I stacking them becomes a lot easier. Paper cups generally have a recessed base leaving an easy to grab upstand.
    – user9837
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 7:46

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