Monday, January 6, 2014

Life In the Fast Food Lane--Part 1

Hi there! I'm Dave-El and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You! Can I interest you in a Super Deluxe Frosty Crispy Burger Melt Supreme?

There is no innovation of the dining experience more American than the concept of fast food. And in true American fashion, we made fast food even faster by not evening getting out of the car. Yes, I'm talking about the drive thru, an institution much relied on yet frequently maligned.

Of course where so many in this world do not have enough to eat, it seems so selfish to complain that the food we get isn't getting to us fast enough and isn't exactly what we asked for.

But dammit, I'm on a time crunch here! What's taking so long? I've been waiting 15 seconds! And what the hell? I said NO pickles!

As a frequently purveyor of the drive thru of a certain international fast food chain that I shall not name (but it rhymes with "RacBonalds"), I have nothing but respect for the hard working people who make this process go as well as it does (and for way too damn little money too!). That being said...

(deep breath)



OK, here are some pet peeves I have with the drive thru experience. 

  • A drive thru menu with more options than a space ship control panel.

Which one of these menu items controls the warp drive?

It is a very frustrating experience trying to scan the myriad options to either find the one thing you're looking for or trying to narrow down whether to order the McMatter with Cheese or the McFood-like Substance Wrap. 

I do like the advancement in fast food drive thru technology when the computer screen shows the order as its being entered. But this presents its own unique challenges.

Me: "I would like to order the #2 combo with iced tea."

Computer screen: #2 combo, iced tea

OK, good!

Me: "And a #4 combo with a diet coke."

Computer screen: Still shows #2 combo, iced tea

Me: Uh.

Person taking order: "Will that be all?"

Computer screen: Still shows #2 combo, iced tea

Me: "The screen still shows only the #2 combo with iced tea."

Person taking order: "I have you for a #2 combo with iced tea and a #4 combo with a diet Coke."

Me: "Yeah, right."

Computer screen: #2 combo, iced tea

Computer screen: #4 combo, Diet Coke

OK, the 2nd ordering is showing up on the screen. Good.

Computer screen: #4 combo, Diet Coke a second time

Me: What the...?

Technology aside, the classic problem with the fast food drive thru still exists and it involves simply understanding. Why does the person taking my order have to sound like one of the grown ups from a Peanuts cartoon?

"Wah wah! Wah wah wah wah! Wah! Wah wah!"

And for those poor desperate people from Mexico who come to America seeking a better life? I have no problem with that. Living in Mexico is like living in a real life Grand Theft Auto but with less of a sense of humor. By all means, come to America (legally, of course) and good luck pursuing the American dream. But until you've mastered the lingo, PLEASE STAY OFF THE DRIVE THRU WINDOW!*

*Por favor, permanezca fuera de la unidad a través de la ventana!

Other pet peeves I have with fast food drive thru:
  • The employee not confirming the amount of my order either at the speaker or the pay window. Dude (or dudette), you're going to have my credit card in your hands for about 10 seconds. I would really like to know what you're going to put on it.

True story. Last week I went to visit my mom and I was tasked to go get a bucket of chicken from KFC. Just chicken. All other items for the meal were covered. So I went inside (because the space shuttle command drive thru menu did not have anything on it for just getting a bucket of chicken) and the woman who processed my order immediately had a horrified look on her face and she calls over a manager who helped her fix the mistake. It seems that bucket of chicken was going to cost me $98! It was an honest mistake involving a misplaced decimal and it was immediately resolved.

·         Being made to wait for the one thing I really don’t want THAT badly. One morning, I went through the drive thru as "RacBonalds" and instead of ordering just a biscuit and a drink as is my want, on a whim I ordered a combo. To be honest, I really cannot stress how badly I do not need to be consuming grease infused fried simulated potato patties so I cannot say what prompted this. But as I drove up to get my order, I was told that my order would take a couple of minutes and to pull to wait for my food to be brought out. After several minutes, a breathless and apologetic employee comes out with my food and explained, "I'm sorry for the delay. We needed to fry up some more hash browns." If that had been explained to me, I would have been more than willing to accept any substitution: yogurt fruit parfait, apple pie, whatever.

One particularly annoying pet peeve I have with the fast food drive thru window experience is the bad habit of some people jumping ahead of my thought process. For what I mean by that, check back here this time next week for Life In the Fast Food Lane--Part 2.

Until then, be good to one another.**

**Sean buenos unos con otros.

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