Friday, December 16, 2011
Surviving the drive-thru
What do two very active kids plus two very busy working parents equal? The answer: Drive-thrus.
Despite the $200 worth of meat that I purchased recently at the wholesale food store, I inevitably find myself waiting in the drive-thru line. Why I think that's easier than cooking a pot roast, I do not know. The truth is, drive-thrus are a pain and have been since the beginning.
Yes, I remember some of our area's first drive-thru restaurants. One was a Wendy's, which later transformed into an Italian restaurant and is now a Mexican restaurant. But, back in the "Where's the Beef?" hey day, we spent a lot of time in that drive-thru. My mother never had any trouble placing our order into the loud speaker, but, for some reason, doing so made my dad break out into a cold sweat.
"I can't do it. You'll have to do it," he'd say to my mom if he were in the driver's seat. She'd lean over and yell our order, which the clerk would repeat back to her -- incorrectly. Times haven't really changed much. I can remember the one and only time my dad placed his own order. Perhaps mom was sick. I don't know. I just recall her giving him a list, and my sister and I riding to the restaurant with him.
He leaned out the window, pulled out his list and cleared his throat.
"Dog food," he said loudly. My sister and I began to giggle. "Milk, bread ..."
"Daddy, I think that's Mama's grocery list. Turn it over," my sister offered.
The other problem with drive-thrus is you feel so rushed, especially when my husband is ordering. He prefers it if we all order a number, so I try to comply.
"We'll take two number threes with Cokes to drink," he said hurriedly.
"Do you want honey mustard or barbeque sauce with that?" asked the voice through the loud speaker.
"What kind of sauce? What kind of sauce?" my husband said frantically, snapping his fingers.
"I don't want any sauce," I said.
"Just pick a sauce!" he yelled.
"What kind of sauce did you say, sir?" said the voice.
"But I don't want sauce!"
"Pick a sauce; don't confuse her!"
By this time I could have made that pot roast.
Of course, I don't blame him. Even though I know there's a real person back there, the voice seems so impersonal -- and inflexible when it comes to special orders. I pulled through a drive-thru over the weekend. It was the type in which there are two lanes to expedite ordering. The problem was the two lanes had to merge. Anyone who's ever driven on a highway knows that even on the best day, the human race stinks at merging. So, expecting hungry tired people with screaming children in the back seat to politely merge is a ridiculous idea.
At this particular restaurant, I ordered a medium milkshake and was told that they only had small or large.
"OK, we'll take the large."
"The large comes in a medium cup. Do you still want a large?"
"Why not?" I said, and then my children and I had a good laugh.
Though they say families who eat at the dinner table together, stay together, I say the families who survive drive-thrus together stay together. As long as you order the sauce.