A Drive-Through Statistic

So this morning I decide to grab breakfast at a local fast-food joint, something I’m sure you’re not surprised I’m wont to do. It’s kind of a regular thing for me, ordering some embryonic inspiration (translation: something with eggs in it) and eating it in the car.

If you’re a regular at the drive-through you’ll know that occasionally the staff at these places will ask you to either pull around and park out front or drive to a space designated for drive-through patrons. Usually you’re led to believe it’s because your order will take longer than the person or persons behind you and that you moving will allow them to get their orders and yours won’t take any longer than it would anyway. So you’re left to watch longingly as people pass you and mock you because they got there later but you’re still waiting for your greasy grub. They get to spill on their shirts long before you do.

I never like being asked to do it, but I appreciate it when they tell someone in front of me to wait somewhere else, so always when they request it of me I oblige. This morning the nice young woman (Seriously, she’s always a paragon of courtesy, a real peach.) asked if I would drive around front and they’d deliver my meal.

Two things were odd, though. For one, she said it would be in about 30 seconds. Secondly, there was no one behind me. If it was going to be so quick and no one was going to be inconvenienced, why the request? I didn’t think about that, though, until I was away from the window and could see there were no cars in my rearview mirror. I knew in that moment I had to raise the issue here.

I thought I might just let the incident pass, take my food, be on my way and ask a question in this forum. Instead, as the young server made her way out the restaurant less than a minute after I put the car in park, I decided I’d ask why I’d been sent away from the window when no one was behind me.

Essentially, she confided, it’s a game of “Beat the Clock” in there. I took her answer to mean that there is more money forthcoming to the employees, or at least one of them, when they can get people away from the window quickly. She said they’d been doing well that morning and wanted to keep the good thing going.

I understood the answer, but also felt like my short stay in the window was artificial. Do you remember years ago there was a women’s college basketball game in which a team let one of the opponent’s players, a woman who had broken her leg in the previous game, sink a layup uncontested just so she could become the top scorer ever? I felt like I was the team that allowed enabled the hobbling woman, only I was kind of duped into it.

Granted I understand that it’s kind of silly for me to quibble about a few extra turns I had to take to get my food. I wasn’t angry about it. It didn’t really inconvenience me. It just felt weird, fake, contrived and unnecessary. I’m glad they get paid more, though. Maybe it makes them like their job a bit more. Maybe next time I buy a cheeseburger pickles only for my daughter they won’t forget the meat and the cheese like they did that one time.

4 thoughts on “A Drive-Through Statistic

  1. Steven, sorry to hear that you have become a victim of the “bean counter” obsession taking over this country. Everything by the numbers and by the clock. No human or real world situations are acceptable. Only the pencil pushing few determine how you live the minutes of your life. One of the great Lethal Weapon movies had a beautiful line in it about the drive thru. So sad but true.

  2. Steven…You have several options:

    Find another fast drove through.
    Learn to cook.
    Take a nutrition course at OC or Harrison.
    Carry a small cooler filled with healthy type grease and things like oranges, apples, broccoli and spinach.
    Add plain nuts to the mix.
    Good luck.
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. Steve, I see your point, but I’m also glad you didn’t take it any further than you did. Those fast-food workers are probably under tremendous pressure to increase volume in any way it can be measured — and why harsh their rare mellow if they’re feeling good about getting ahead (however briefly) of the ever-elevating bar of performance?

    What did it cost you to allow the uncontested layup? Do you feel your integrity was eroded somehow by your compliance in this sinister corporate conspiracy?

    Have some fun with it next time this particular circumstance arises: “I’ll have a number three, supersize, curly fries instead of regular … hold the pull-forward.”

    See how they react.

  4. Jim, I’m all about choosing my battles. Most often I choose not to battle.

    Overall I think now that I must have written this entry far more seriously than it deserved.

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