Monday, January 2, 2017

Drive thru heaven

I won't say that around here, a mere 30 miles from its headquarters, Chick-fil-A, is a religion, but I will say I believe if you talk bad about it, you're probably going to hell. And there will be no sweet tea down there.

I say that as an admission that what I am about to confess may cut me off from that sweet nectar for all of eternity. To be fair, it's less a criticism of the corporation than a condemnation of me. And I have come to terms with that.

You see, I'm ok with the fact that the face-to-face drive thru lines make me uncomfortable. Frankly, I feel it's unnatural. A drive thru is designed for people who don't want to change out of their pajamas or whose hair may be a mess -- or worse. Call me old fashioned, but a drive thru should be me screaming into a machine and hearing a warbled, "What?" come back until I get frustrated and pull around and throw money in the window until they get my order right. It just works that way. Believe me, none of those people ever smiled at me or asked my name or told me to have a blessed day, and I was OK with that.

This new system, however, is the drive thru equivalent of going to Sunday school. You have to look at least moderately presentable, be cordial and not cut in line. What's the saying about a sinner in a church? Well, when I go to order my five-count chicken minis, I'm sweating like one.

"Why?" My family asked, genuinely bewildered one morning after I proclaimed I didn't like giving them my name.

How could I explain that the drive thru should be a sacred place where bad behavior is accepted, indeed, expected, and that I wanted to reserve the right to pitch a fit if a person got my order wrong without them being able to track me down.

Instead, I replied, “I feel like they are judging me.”

This elicited a wise crack from my husband: "Like they are going to say, car No. 220 was very messy."

I know it's absurd, but I feel they're “tsk, tsking” the Cheetos wrappers and abundance of Coke cans in the backseat. They’re shaking their heads at my gluttony after they realize I'd already been there once today or the fact that it's only 10 a.m., and I'm ordering a cookies and cream milkshake. I'm sure it all well-meaning, but it's just too personal.

"It defeats the purpose of a drive thru," I said.

"I thought we took the drive thru because we were in a  hurry," my daughter said.

By this time, I already had about five employees smile and be nice to me and call me by name before I'd even received my morning coffee.

"How can we be in a hurry while we are told which car to follow behind in line?" I thought.

Instead, I proclaimed that I didn't want to talk to people. And it surprised me. Was that really how I felt? And, why?

I don't believe Chick-fil-A is a religion and that God is behind the counter, but I do think He'd be upset at my being bothered by someone saying, "Do you want fries with that, Ms. Leigh?"

Feeling guilty, I decided right then and there behind the white minivan that I had better grin and bear it or park and go in to sip my sweet tea and reflect on my future. It may be hotter than Georgia in July where I'm going.