Thursday, September 27, 2012


Has it occurred to anybody else that drive-throughs might be the epitome of human laziness?

For those of you who have no idea what a drive-through is, a drive-through is a little window cut into the side of a fast-food restaurant. You drive up to a speaker,  place your order, and wait at a little window for someone to hand you your food. They are extremely common in places with a lot of fast-food joints, like suburbs. That said, if you don't know of these wastes of construction materials, good for you; wherever you are has not yet been devoured by fast-food franchises.

Here's the thing: drive-thrus do not need to exist. They're a convenience. They originated from drive-in movies, which are now all but obsolete. It's almost built-in to American culture that, if something cannot be done from inside a car, it is not worth doing. The more you think about that, the sadder it is.

If you're on a roadtrip, by all means get out of the car; chances are you'll need to stretch your legs. Just about the only time drive-thrus are truly useful is that odd situation when you're in a biiig rush to get somewhere, and even then, you're saving...maybe thirty seconds by not parking. Maybe. There might be another car in front of you, just like there might be another person in line inside the building. You save very little time and are burning gas, which, last I checked, cost more than that burger.

It takes just as long to get your food. There still might be a line. There is absolutely no benefit from going into a drive-thru versus going into the darn restaurant. The only real difference is that you don't have to leave your car. There are very few situations in which that actually matters.

If anything, not leaving your car puts you at a disadvantage. Humans are social animals; there is only a millisecond of contact with another person when you order food via drive-through. There is slightly more when you're talking to an actual person as opposed to shouting into a speaker. There's even a chance that you'll get free stuff for being a frequent customer. How can a drive-through beat "free?"

Then there's the actual food involved. No, I am not talking about how all fast food is crap (although it's true). I'm talking about how, in places where you can actually see the fast food, you are able to see a good 75% of the food while in the building. Having the food in front of you makes you actually think about it. "Do I really want this? What's that thing like?" Heaven forbid asking simple questions like that; in a drive-through, your order has to be almost automatic to get any real advantage over going in the building.

Oh, no. Walking to eat food is way too much work. Out of laziness, you give up human contact and the possibility of discovering something new that you might actually like. It's odd how people consider that a benefit; I've gotten discounted egg sandwiches just because people behind the counter know my face.

Why do drive-throughs exist, again?