We've got a complicated order

Ok so I struggle with drive-thru’s. And I recently hit rock bottom.

But in my defense, I think it’s an innate limitation. We were not designed to receive our meals in such an instantly gratifying process! I, for one, have a lot of Native American in my blood… and I can assure you my ancestors didn’t just wander up beside a buffalo and chomp right in. And I could be wrong, but I doubt there was a wigwam anywhere passing out turkey meat and asking if you want thighs with that. They let things simmer. They tended to corn for months on end before they had anything to show for it.

And the guy behind me is honking because I didn’t close in the three foot gap between me and the (stationary) vehicle in front of me, thus bringing him 0.6 seconds closer to his styrofoam cornucopia of goodness. My apologies.

Ok maybe I’m being too harsh… after all, that was then and this is now, just another point along the span of our dynamic history, and I should adapt and yada-yada-yada…

The truth is, I want to conquer the drive-thru. At the core, I can still be your average over-busy, underwhelmed, short attention-spanned millennial who fears “unnecessary” social interaction and despises this “useless” waste of time we call “sharing a meal with someone” and believes “she can multi-task” way better than she actually can. But as fast as I run, I just can't seem to break that proverbial ribbon. Or more accurately, break free the straw from its paper sleeve by repeatedly pounding it against the steering wheel like a excavator with a pick.

What's with that, by the way? Has anyone figured out how to split the paper without splitting the straw? Bc I'm always "Someone call the Dr. Pepper bc there's a tear in the twisty tube to my heart" amiright?! like c'mon! THIS IS THE LAST STRAW. and it actually is. because I checked the glove compartment already. I digress...

So maybe it’s because I distrust the process after one too many voices came over the intercom to ask me to try their new Frosty Nerds Side-by-Side McLemonade, only to follow up with a voice of a decidedly different gender. But I’m telling you, “have it your way” is a Pandora’s box you don’t want to offer me. And that was all-too-obvious last month with the “Cane’s incident”.

What is the Cane’s incident, you may ask? Did I…

a. say “you too” when they delivered my meal and asked me to enjoy it?

b. put my car in park and then inadvertantly rev the engine, only to discover I was headed nowhere? (both literally and figuratively bc the “check out my VW mommy car” that accompanied the engine rev did nothing but harm to my social standing)

c. drop change and floor it without looking back bc to retrieve it would be to acknowledge my clumsiness?

No. Well, technically, yes to all of the above, but not in this particular instance.

No, in this instance, I entered the line at Cane’s, initially annoyed to find it so lengthy but determined to make the most of it. Soon, the tunes were bumpin’ and the wait was forgotten. I subconsciously inched forward at snail’s pace in tune with the other vehicles, and I didn’t even give it a second thought. Finally, I was two cars from the window. PhewCan’t wait to chow down on my… whatever I ordered… wait…

That’s when it hit me. No. I glanced in my rear view mirror, and there she was, that little silver ordering box shining in the singular street lamp. Taunting me. But she was already behind me.

Abort! I thought. I surveyed the area, but I was landlocked by a bunch of hideous bushes covering a fairly sudden drop-off. Building and bushes beside me and cars like sardines in front and behind. There was no escape. I’d have to ride it out.

So I pulled up to the window, trying to laugh at myself and skip over the humility step. But the woman would show no mercy.

“You had the three finger combo with a Sweet Tea?”

Yes!! For a second, I thought I actually had ordered!! I was safe!! But a sweet tea? I don’t drink sweet tea. No. I wasn’t getting off that easy.

“Actually, that is what I wanted buuuuut I didn’t order yet.”

She looked at me like I had a tomato for a face. And honestly at this point, I probably did. So I went into explaining about my forgetfulness, and thankfully she let me order on the spot, and I drove away to fill the pit in my stomach that had been so rapidly developing.

This, of course, brought back a flood of memories. Suddenly, I was back in high school, at a Chick-fil-a. I had just paid for what I expected to be quite a delicious breakfast, and so eager to enjoy it was I that I accepted the return of my credit card and then promptly drove away. Nothing says embarrassment like parking your car, walking into Chick-fil-a, and explaining, “Yeah, hi, um I just got breakfast from the drive-thru… except I forgot the whole ‘getting the breakfast' part”. Never has an employee’s “my pleasure” held more validity as they saw this bumbling bafoon out the door to take on the rest of the world.

I write all this to say, if you struggle with drive-thru’s too, you are not alone. Unless you find yourself orderless and trapped between cars, in which case you are very much alone. But you are not the first. So go confidently, knowing that I’ve already paved the way in my white VW and I will likely continue to do so. That is, when I remember not to put it in park.

Emma Murphy