Have you noticed, how more and more businesses are allowing customers to purchase products and services, via drive-through windows? I read that a number of factors, including our increasing dependence on vehicles in a mobile society, technological advances that provide luxury’s in automobiles, unheard of in past generations, and the relentless search by consumers for more convenience, have allowed us to complete more and more of our daily activities without having to leave our cars. I don’t know about you, but at least for me; I think it means, I’m becoming incredibly lazy. What’s next – robots that carry us to our cars? How about, comfortable lounge chairs that convert into a highway-ready, means of transportation? I guess, it would be pretty cool, to pull up to the takeout window at Burger King in a souped-up Lazy Boy Recliner. I’m surprised, some innovative genius hasn’t already invented drive-through bathrooms. Then, we’d never have to leave our cars!
Most of us have used or at least heard of drive-through fast food restaurants, coffee shops, postal service centers, banks, and pharmacies. It may sound a bit crazy, but there’s also drive-through marriage chapels in Las Vegas, liquor stores, beer distributorships, and funeral home viewings, where the final memory of your cherished loved one is through the driver’s side window of your new SUV. Do you know, you can now order groceries online, drive to a supermarket, pull up to a loading dock, pop your trunk, and someone will load your purchases into your vehicle? When you get home, you use your smart phone to call your teenage children to come out and bring the groceries into the house. After getting either a busy signal, or no answer, you end up carrying a dozen heavy bags in by yourself, and find your kids on their beds, wearing headphones, listening to music, and surfing the net. When they finally notice you’re home, what do they say? “I’m starving; what’s for dinner?”
I’m still waiting for the installation of drive-through windows at hospital emergency rooms. It could be set up, just like those at McDonald’s. You would pull up to a speaker with a big, brightly lit board behind it. Instead of a menu, with hamburger or chicken sandwich combos, along with fries and sodas, the sign would have illnesses listed with symptoms. You then choose your particular ailment, slip your insurance card into a reader, pull up, and get your prescription. You might even say something like this. “Yes, I’ll have the #7 severe cold with a runny nose, and a sore throat; and could you please, super-size the medication?”
How many of you, have used the drive-through at Dunkin Donuts? Have you ever pulled into an empty parking lot, but there were at least twenty to thirty cars, snaking their way from the window, through the parking lot, and out into the street? Did you decide to pull in, park, and use the counter? When you walked in, was the place completely empty, and so quiet, the only sounds were crickets chirping? Did you wait a few moments, and then lean over the counter to see where in the heck everybody was? Where there seven or eight employees frantically making and serving coffee, donuts, and delicious breakfast sandwiches to customers at the drive-through window? Did an employee rush over, glance in your direction, say they’ll be with you in a minute, and grab that last coffee roll in the display case? Was it the one you had been staring at for five minutes, as drool dripped onto the floor at your feet? Was it a spectacular confectionary treat, as round and large as a Frisbee, contained nothing but delicately baked sugar and dough, and was covered in mouth-watering white icing? Did you leave, get in your car, and get in the back of the drive-through line? Did you learn a valuable lesson? Was the lesson – businesses prioritize the drive-through customers?
As always, I would be remiss in my mission to provide entertainment, if I didn’t have some questions, thoughts, and observations on the subject of drive-throughs. Have any of you ever had someone behind you beep their horn because you didn’t move up fast enough, and there were twenty cars in front of you in a drive-through line? Here’s something I’ve never been able to figure out. How come we can invent hand-sized, and extremely sophisticated smart phones, able to instantaneously, and clearly communicate with a Mongolian Yak herder on the other side of the world, but we can’t make drive thru speakers that will transmit a simple signal, twenty-five feet? Half the time the voices coming through the speaker, sound like Darth Vader from Star Wars. Did you ever get to the speaker, and hear a raspy and frightening voice that sounded like it said, “Luke, I am your father?”
Is it true that some of the first fast food restaurants to utilize drive-throughs, failed miserably? Was it because they made the mistake of inadvertently putting the food pick-up window first, followed by the payment window? Did some poor teenager, sitting at an ancient cash register, think to himself, “what the heck is going on here? I could have sworn, at least twenty cars were in line, and picked up their food.” Have you ever thought about, why drive-throughs don’t have picture screens at the speakers? I’ve always wondered about two things. Isn’t it unfair that the hearing impaired, who use sign language, can’t use drive-through windows, and what’s the sign for a Big Mac without pickles?
How about the people in front of you who order, then don’t pull their car up far enough? They leave you in fast-food no man’s land, with your head out the window, and a distant voice from the speaker, repeating, “Can I take your order.” Can someone please tell me why the menus at fast-food drive throughs are always, right at the speaker? You pull up, look at the menu for less than a second, quickly try to scan the eight million choices in microscopic lettering, and a voice comes on immediately, and says, “What will you have?” I’d like to say, “I’ll have at least seven seconds to make a choice, please,” but I don’t. I figure if you work at a drive thru window you have a tough enough job. Besides, I’m afraid, I’ll hear that scary voice again, saying, “Luuuuuuke…… take the grilled chicken Caesar salad with no dressing, and may the force be with you.”