Americans are fascinated by the Drive Thru. Drive Thru - anything. (And not through, mind you. Thru.) I heard a radio ad for a drive-thru pizza place. Drive thru pizza. Or self-delivery, take your pick.
I guess the idea goes back to those old car-hop restaurants, where you eat the food in your car off a tray that sits on your window. I don't get that either. There's nothing like the smell of gasoline and leaking coolant to spice up a night out for the family. I think the parents were using the gas fumes to get the kids to go to bed earlier.
But then, somebody figured that we'd rather sit at home in front of the TV and eat not-quite-as-hot-as-it-would-be-in-the-restaurant food instead of sitting around outside. Genius marketing. Then, they figured that if we like grabbing food out of a window we would enjoy making other transactions through windows, sometimes with the aid of a pneumatic tube, to make it more fun. If you have coins, take them inside.
Since we're kind of married to our vehicles, the drive through concept is ideal for Americans. It's a strange thing, the drive thru. I'd have called it a Drive To, since you're not really driving through anything. You're driving to something. That's the first change I'd make. If they won't go along with that, then I'm changing the spelling to add the ough. One or the other.
The next thing would be to have transaction limits at the drive thru. Specifically in banks and food places. People pull up to the drive thru with a month's worth of banking. Meanwhile, the bank is open inside as well, but God forbid you save some of us the issue of waiting for your out-of-state unemployment checks to post and get out of your car.
That's a big problem for us, getting out of the car. Any time someone says, "Could you step out of the car, please?" it's met with an eye-roll. We don't like getting out. It's our little cocoon from the world, and how dare you! "Please, stay in the car, I'll be right back" makes us very happy. So we don't get out. Not for giant bank transactions or family food orders.
NOTE TO FAST FOOD PATRONS:
Under no circumstances are you to use the drive thru window to order for anyone who is not in the vehicle.
if your order takes more than one of those cardboard drink and food holders. You're limited to one hand-through food and drink order.
I'm not going to wait 10 minutes for my Value Meal while you order food for a house full of kids and their cousins. Go inside. If I see any fumbling at the order board or any reading from a list, I get out of line and go inside. Most of the time I'm walking out with my food while the Brady Bunch is still waiting for their 8 bags of Whoppers and 16 large Cokes. Get a cart and go inside.
That's the other thing. I'm not sure that there is any time savings. In the time it takes you to sit in the drive thru line, order your stuff, pay for it and pick it up (a 3-step process, just like inside) you will have taken as long as you would have if you parked and went inside. So it isn't always a matter of time. It's just that we're so afflicted by our automobiles that we can't pry our asses out of them for five minutes to pick up some food. Where's the hunter/gatherer gene while this decision process is being made?
But they're everywhere. Drug stores, banks, coffee, donuts (strangely sometimes two separate places) and dry cleaners. ("Hand my delicately-sewn gown through the car window, please.") They contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, keep us from moving our bodies and sometimes inconvenience others. Where is the great social advantage?
We're on the go. Advertisers love to say we're on the go. Our crazy-busy lifestyle and all. And because we're on the go, we need to keep going, and we can't be slowed down by ... walking. It's important for us to stay in our vehicles so that we think we're going somewhere.
We're on the go, damn it.