My power windows haven’t been working right lately, so whenever I want my bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, I need to park, get out of the vehicle, walk into the Golden Arches, and look an employee right in the eye and place my order in person as opposed through a cold, faceless intercom.
I don’t mind terribly. At least I know I’ll get napkins because I won’t forget.
But I miss the convenience. I’m not sure about the actual lost time, if any at all, but it seems there is some when parking and leaving the car to go inside. Plus it’s just the getting in and out when there’s this nice and easy, 1-2-3 drive-through just begging for my business that just doesn't feel right.
Drive-throughs have been around for decades and I can’t imagine how many times I’ve used them to buy burgers, chicken, custard, make a bank transaction, get my car washed, or return a library book.
I can recall riding my bike as a kid to McDonald’s, standing in line outside at the window, then finding a spot under a tree to eat my Big Mac. It was honestly a big deal when the restaurants added seats. And then in the mid-70’s, the mega fast food chain started installing drive-throughs.
Boy, are they popular. Tom Vanderbilt writes in Slate that “drive-throughs account for some 65 percent of McDonald's
Despite their popularity, Vanderbilt finds these car-lanes to be “odd,” and asks, “Has the American romance with the drive-through gone sour?”
“There has always been something odd in the encounter between automobility and architecture; the driver momentarily breaks her sense of hermetic enclosure, while the fast-food employee briefly thrusts himself out of the window, the two meeting amid the sickly sweet commingling of ambient grease and tailpipe exhaust,” says Vanderbilt.
The drive-throughs, Vanderbilt claims, are being criticized for our national obesity crisis, their harshness on the environment, and being discriminatory.
Hmmmm. Care to venture a guess as to whether this guy voted for Obama?
“The drive-through is a place predicated not on sociability but on pure efficiency,” writes Vanderbilt.
Ummm, yeh, so. What’s wrong with that?
They’re drive-throughs, and Vanderbilt doesn’t like them. I sense Vanderbilt’s inner glee when he writes that “all is not well with the drive-through,” that sales were down during 2008 and some locales have resorted to enacting anti-idling ordinances as a weapon to curtail the growth of drive-throughs.
Hmmm. Care to venture a guess as to whether this guy has nightmares about global warming?
Read Vanderbilt’s piece and you can almost detect a wailing and gnashing of teeth over those emissions from cars filled with fast food hunters.
And that’s not all.
Drive-throughs are inherently unfair to pedestrians, bicyclists, the Amish, and probably the occasional rickshaw as well. Vanderbilt suggests that drive-throughs are dangerous. I’d love to see the stats on pedestrians walking in front of fast food places who were struck by those nasty people in cars attempting to exit. Vanderbilt doesn’t have any hard facts. He just tosses out unsubstantiated conjecture aimed at alarming. Imagine that.
Like many print persons, Vanderbilt commits a journalistic foible of burying the lead. Vanderbilt's true sentiments finally surface in the final 34 words of his 1,576 word column, and his ridiculous anti-business suggestion is not surprising:
“Ultimately, the question of whether bicycles or pedestrians should be allowed at drive-throughs may be less important than the question of whether, in any but the most vehicularized places, drive-throughs should exist at all.”
Ban drive-throughs? I don’t think so.