The laws of drive thru

Currently, I’m sitting in a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Morgan County, Georgia. It’s Saturday at lunch time. The place is packed (Chick-Fil-A is always packed. I’m convinced if they were open 24 hours, the place would still be full at 3 a.m.).

I’m the only one in a suit.

I’m either really pretentious or I’m killing time before a wedding.

I’m occupying a four-person booth, watching college football streaming online (Vandy vs. Ole Miss. Let’s go, ‘Dores!) and writing this post. I’m getting a lot of dirty looks from families of four who are coveting the real estate that I’m occupying. Either that, or they don’t like guys in suits.

Fast food restaurants are interesting places. Not that I come to these often. I would never eat this unhealthy on a regular basis. And I’m sure none of you do, either. I don’t know how these places stay in business. Nobody I talk to ever eats fast food. This is America, where instead of doing what’s healthy for us, we do the exact opposite but never admit it to anyone. And we’re definitely fooling people. Our bodies don’t give away our secrets at all. Nope.

Anyway, on my [infrequent] visits to these grease pits over the years, more often than not I haven’t actually come in to the restaurant. I order my food through the drive-thru window and take it home or back to work. That way I don’t have to pay $2 for a soda that costs 1 penny to make (This knowledge was picked up when I may have worked at a fast food restaurant in high school. But I never ate the food). Over that time period, I’ve come to notice certain laws that govern the drive thru experience. These are not rules. You can’t break them. They’re laws. Like the law of gravity, Murphy’s Law, or Law & Order. You can fight the law, but the law always wins (someone should write a song about it).They exist and come to bear on you whether or not you notice them or acknowledge them. Even if you try to deny their existence, they are still in effect.

Here they are…

  • The law of the car in front of you. Whenever you decide to pull into a restaurant and make your way to the drive-thru window, the vehicle in front of you in traffic will always choose the exact same restaurant. And that car will never opt to dine inside. It will always pull into the drive-thru line right in front of you. This is especially true if you happen to be in a hurry, or you’re really hungry. More often than not, this car will have a very large and complicated order. Or they will have trouble locating their money once they get to the pay window. Thereby prolonging your time in line exponentially.
  • The law of napkins. You will never get just the right amount of napkins for your order. If you’re buying for a family of four, you will most likely receive one or no napkins. Which is good, because those cloth seats in the back are great for taking care of ketchup and chicken grease. If you are ordering alone, you will receive so many napkins that you can hear the faint sound of dying trees crying as they hand you the bag. You’ll have to clear out your glove box to make room for the pile of absorbent papers. (Side note: beware of the stray fast food napkin. This is the one napkin that doesn’t make it to the glove box or the trash can. It can come back to cause problems later on. For instance: once, I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a bee by the back window. Since I’m allergic, I mildly panicked and then rolled down all four windows to try to let it out. When I did so, a stray napkin flew up into the air and starting spinning around like a paper tornado in the back seat, which forced me to try to reach back while I was driving so I didn’t damage the environment by letting litter escape through the windows. This was a very dangerous procedure, and probably very humorous to watch if you could have seen it. None of it phased the bee, who continued to march back and forth across the top of the back seat.)
  • The law of sweet tea. Here in the South, we like sugar in our brewed tea. This is a foreign concept to those in other parts of the United States. But believe me when I say this: you’re missing out. The problem with fast food sweet tea is that brewing is a very particular process. You have to have the perfect combination of ingredients to make it work. And the tea cannot sit there for too long or it will sour. Typically, the tea is being made by teenagers who are getting paid minimum wage and don’t really care how it tastes. The result makes ordering sweet tea at the drive-thru sort of like Russian Roulette. One out of every six times, it turns out badly. It’s unlike Russian Roulette in that they don’t drink sweet tea in Russia, and nobody dies.
  • The law of the double check. Once you receive your bag of food, you double-check it to make sure the order is right. Every time you check the bag, the order will always be right. The one time you forget to check it, your order will be jacked up beyond recognition. You’ll look in the bag and wonder if the food even came from the same restaurant that you ordered it from. And you won’t realize any of this until you’re too far away to make it worth your while to go back.

These are some of the laws of drive-thru. You can’t break them, but they may break you.

I gotta run. A line has formed waiting on this prime four-person booth.

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