Life in the Drivethrough

mcdees dtI will confess that I find myself in the drive through at McDonald’s more often than is good for me.   There was a time when I was there for a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac meal, large please with a Diet Coke.   These days, it’s more often a large coffee, two cream in, and a Sausage McMuffin with Egg on my way to the park, or a large Diet Coke on the way home.   I know, I know … that diet soda isn’t good for me.  I came home from our trip to Italy a few years ago with a serious Diet Coke habit.  I’ve got it down to one a day.  Italy is an expensive place to get hooked on Diet Coke, by the way … five bucks for a mini-can.

Like many Mickey Dee’s restaurants, our McDonald’s has put in a two lane drive through.  Two ordering lanes converge in to a single line to pay and collect your food.  When I first saw it, I was sure that our always-in-a-hurry, aggressive Socal drivers would be cutting each other off  trying to be first in, first out.   But after more than a year, I’ve watched customers take turns, left lane then right lane.   The design is such that once a car has pulled forward from one lane, a car in the other lane can pull far enough forward so that it cannot be cutoff.   Brilliant design, I’d say, ever the engineer.  Small things amuse small minds, you might say.  I’d respond that it’s a pretty big drivethrough.

But no drivethrough design is completely immune to human foibles, so customers still manage to slow the pace of service.  This evening my wife and I stopped to get an iced coffee and a soda and a woman in an SUV had positioned herself between two lines so she could choose whichever line moved first.  It’s not the first time I’ve seen the old supermarket strategy brought to the drive through.  There are customers texting in line so they don’t move when the line does, which is doubly annoying because the when they finally get to the ordering station they don’t know what the heck they want.   There are Sally Albright customers who, like Sally in When Harry Met Sally have to customize every food order, something McDonald’s is unfortunately encouraging with their new menu.    There are can’t find my wallet customers and there are have a life changing conversation with the cashier customers.  Happy meal orders are particularly slow … C’mon, Jeremiah, Heather, Andrew and Rebecca … what toys do want? Apples or fries?  You don’t even like orange soda, Heather.

Then there was the little old guy who, while searching his cup holder for loose change, rolled into the Audi SUV in front of him.   Oh, yeah, that was ME.   The driver of the SUV, a forty-something woman dressed for business was all-business when she stormed out of her car with steam coming out of her ears, photographed the back end of her car with her phone  and said to me, Do you realize you just hit my vehicle?   Now, my Inner honeyCurmudgeon wanted to have a little fun.  He suggested, Oh really?  I didn’t notice … or maybe, It was just a little kiss, sweety.   Fortunately, at 73 I am capable of keeping my Curmudgeon Inner, so I said, Yes.  I’m very sorry,  Is there any damage? Disarmed by the politeness of the cute old guy looking up at her, she glanced at her car then back at me, smiled and said, Don’t worry about it.  There’s no damage.  So, that old saw about catching more flies with honey than vinegar is true.  Thank goodness.

So, that’s Life in the Drivethrough for Monday.   Have a great week.  And don’t text in line.

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