The Drive Thru
Rating : 4.69, 16 votes.
Reviews : 3 [add review]
The Restaurant Drive-Through
A Uniquely American Creation
By Gil Stonebarger
Only in a country as unique as America, could you find something so revolutionary, so life changing, so uniquely original as the “ drive through”. The idea originated with the traditional “drive –in” restaurant.
You remember those, A&W, Big Boys, Sonics and the like? As America’s love affair with the car has grown, so has the proliferation of the drive through. The concept expanded to drugstores, liquor stores and even churches. Great idea on paper, great idea on the balance sheet, just a really great idea, right?
Not even close. Let’s think for a minute of the many down sides to the drive though adventure. Where does one begin, you may ask yourself. How about we discuss the subject by starting at the obvious point, asphalt. That’s right the pavement, the drive way, the parking lot. There are as many designs and layouts for the drive through as there are designs for sky scrapers. There is no other design feature in architecture that is so often gotten wrong.
We’ve all experienced the cars backed up in the street, waiting in line, because the lane to the window was made too short. Consider the “cross the traffic lane at your own risk” access of some locations. There’s the “loop around the building for several hundred feet” design. Let’s not forget the layout that effectively blocks a good section of parking spaces when the cars are qued up at the window. This one is my favorite, it traps the folks who actually went in to sit down. You can go in, but it’s like playing bumper cars when it’s time to leave.
This brings us to the next step in the drive up process: the lanes so narrow, you need to butter the sides of your car to get through. Haven’t you ever felt a bit claustrophobic, squeezing your Prius into that narrow little lane? You know, the one where you can reach out and touch the building on one side and just squeeze by the yellow post on the other side. That’s after you fold in the mirror on the side of your car. I drive an SUV and I feel like the captain of the Titanic maneuvering a great vessel through the iceburgs, as I go past the half dead evergreens and thousands of cigarette butts littering the way.
And now we come to the infamous MENU BOARD. Of course no one can forget the brilliant marketing tool of a certain food giant’s “face to face” disaster. If many of us can’t remember our anniversary or our kids birthdays, why are we expected to remember the orders of our four person family, from that giant menu to the window 150 ft away? So assuming you are lucky enough to find a menu board that isn’t missing letters, leaning precariously to the side or so sun faded the lettering looks like hieroglyphics, your next adventure begins.
There are so many choices, you wonder how they can stock that much food inside that little building. It takes most of us longer to decide what to eat, than it does to decide what clothes to wear each day. Of course there’s the family of 8, in the van ahead of you, ordering for the family picnic, just when you pull in for an iced coffee. As your heart races and your hands grip the steering wheel, you choose #4. Wow!, you think, John Kennedy didn’t feel this much pressure in October of 1962.
Now you wait to inch you’re way to the next stop on your journey…the actual menu with the speaker. Here’s where the real fun begins. Assuming you haven’t changed your mind or the kids haven’t broken out in fist fights in the back seat, you’re ready to talk to someone. Here is where one of the most lampooned, dreaded and biggest failures of modern technology occurs. Let me preface this by reminding the reader, in the 1940’s we talked to each other on warships, hundreds of miles across the seas. In the 1950’s we set up a hotline between Moscow and Washington, to prevent nuclear war. In the 1960’s we talked to men on the surface of the moon. Today we communicate with space craft on the edges of our solar system. You can actually take a satellite phone to the top of Mount Everest and talk to your friend sitting on the banks of the Amazon river. Why then, can’t we make a speaker that actually translates human voices? You can get better vocal recognition at an Ozzie Osbourne concert, than you can ordering a burger and fries.
Seriously, even if you and the order taker were trained in speech and vocal composition, you’ll have more luck communicating with a Masai warrior of the plains of Africa. Heaven forbid that person at the window is not from our country, which I will address shortly. For the love of all that is good and right, someone needs to come up with something better than two cans and a string to order my fried chicken by. Come to think of it, maybe two cans and a string is the answer!
Here you are, two days and two hundred exchanges later, trying to get your burger without onions. You have run out of gas, you think the lady behind you may have died in her car and the birds have flown south for the winter, giving up on the chance of a dropped fry or two.
You might not have been in this predicament, had one thing happened. The store manager actually thought through the decision to put that sweet innocent little lady from Nicaragua on the other end of the speaker. Sure the young guy from Mexico is the hardest worked you ever had, but he has only been in the states for three months. Here’s the point I am getting to: It’s impossible to clearly communicate your wants and needs over that cheap speaker system, why the heck would you put someone who has a heavy accent or speaks broken English, on the other end???
Don’t get out the phone book for the number to the ACLU & I am not a member of the vast right wing conspiracy. I am all in favor of legal immigrants adding to the richness of our diversity and national heritage. I just don’t want them learning and immersing themselves in our culture, when I am rushed to get lunch, before I have to be back to work.
Is it too much to ask a Restaurant Manager to get in their car, drive to that little speaker and listen to their star worker, BEFORE you try to make them communicate with the public. Trust me, they have as much trouble understanding my Midwestern accent. It is unfair to subject both of us to this torture.
As you celebrate your next birthday, while you drive away with your corndog and coke, remember this little nugget of enlightening information. You just idled your carbon emitting, pollution creating, global warming machine for 20 minutes in the drive through lane. Your carbon footprint just grew bigger than Kobe Bryant’s b-ball sneakers. You can drive your Prius Hybrid all week, while I drive my SUV and you might be able to make up the difference between your environmental damage and mine.
Oh, hold on folks, I just dropped my change between the seats and they are holding my curly fries out the window…..
Rating : 4.69, 16 votes.
Reviews : 3 [add review]
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