My roommate and I are at the beach in Chesapeake Bay, VA. I’d post pictures, but to save battery on my ever-depleting smartphone (which I can’t live without), I’ve been taking pictures with an actual digital camera. My roommate thinks that makes me about ninety years old, but I think, at the very least, I can get away with 74.

Anyway, as we’re getting ready for our second and last day of basking out in the sand, we were discussing the best way to get Irish beverages on the beach. I suggested the DD Coolata as an option, which led to a hypothetical scenario in which I spoke to an employee through the drive thru window:

“Hello” (Dramatic voice) “I would like a Coconut Coolata, please.”

“I’m sorry ma’am” the bored teenager would say into her microphone. “We don’t make Coconut Coolatas.”

“Then grind up one of your coconut donuts and mix it in.” I reply. Again, hypothetical, and also hilarious if you heard my delivery, but since this is not the best medium for that, you’re just going to have to believe that I am super funny.

This got me thinking of the impersonal nature of the drive-thru in general. I never thought about it before, but I have said or thought these words: “I don’t have time to go in, I’ll just go through the drive thru.” You’ve said/though them as well, even though we all know that it’s not really a convenience. You have to repeat yourself multiple times or make the sad teenager on the other end repeat him or herself. Then you have to wonder about spit or other things they might add to your order if you are too difficult of a customer. If you don’t check your order right away, you might find out halfway down the road that they gave you a cheeseburger instead of a grilled chicken sandwich (that has happened to me) or that they gave you Pepsi when you clearly ordered diet Pepsi.

The point is here that what we’re really saying when we elect to go through the drive thru is “I would like food, but I would like to limit my interactions with other humans as much as possible.” We are willing to accept the drive-thru frustrations because we don’t have to actually stand in line with other people who, God forbid, might have children. We might get behind those folks who just can’t figure out what they want, even though they’ve come to a fast food place, so it’s not like there will be any big surprises: they still vacillate between the #1 and the #3. And then, at the end of it all, we have to make the same decisions ourselves, but this time talking face-to-face with a minimum wage worker forced to do a degrading job. I think we don’t like to admit that we feel superior to those folks, (you might deny that, but if you’ve ever gone to Burger King and seen a middle-aged person and felt sorry for them, you’re in the same boat here). We might have to admit that we’re kind of bad people.

And that’s why we talk into a microphone and order our fries to go, because it’s all sort of embarrassing and elitist of us to demand someone make our food without making eye contact.

My roommate is out of the shower so it’s time to head to the beach again. I hope to be eating delicious crab or oysters later, and to make full eye contact and even some conversation with my server.

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life challenge, a link-up that lets me riff about the ridiculous with a guaranteed audience. 🙂

Slice of Life