I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. If Pete were already here and exiting his car, I was running late. The line at McDonald’s had gotten frozen in place–the cars in front of me evidently ordering exotic meals that took hours to prepare. I couldn’t honk. No one honks in a McDonald’s line. What would be the point? As I waited in line, I again imagined a world in which McDonald’s drive-ups had two lines: one for people who know what they want–and they don’t want much; and a second line for dullards who act as if they’ve never seen a menu board before.
“Good Morning,” the Macdonalds employee at the drive-up window says to the customer in front of me. “What would you like to order today?”
From the car in front of me, nothing. Just silence. Perhaps a murmured, “Ummmmm….” until finally, the employee says, “Hello? May I help you?”
Another pause. Then, “I don’t know exactly what I want.”
“That’s fine, sir, take your time.”
Take your time! Like this is not just a drive-up window but also a meditation site –just drive up, park your car, and start trying to think of a mantra.
“Do you have pancakes?” the zen customer finally asks, puzzled as to whether or not a breakfast place serves breakfast food.
“Yes we do sir. Would you like an order of hotcakes?”
“Are those the same as pancakes?”
Oh. My. God.
“Yes they are. Would you like anything to drink with that order?”
At that point, as the customer waits to be prompted by the employee as to what he would like to drink, I keep from pounding my head on the steering wheel by imagining a better world in which drive-up windows were timed, and anyone who exceeded the allotted limit was sprayed in the face with Coca Cola.
“What would you like to drink, sir?”
“Decaf or regular?”
“Is it fresh?”
“How long ago was it made?”
At that point, I have two choices, I can either ram the car sitting in front of me or I can drive off and never find out how many minutes before the coffee was made and whether or not the customer is going to commit to decaf or regular.
As I pull by the customer, I glare in his direction, but–embedded deep in the ordering process–he doesn’t notice; and as I drive by the window where food is being delivered, I see another customer sorting through his bagged order; for five years before he must have reached home to discover that he had been shorted an order of fries and ever since he must go through the bag, double- and triple-checking the order while everyone behind him in line grows old.
That line I imagine–the dullard line–would keep people out of my way who are not me and who had not showered too long, walked the dog too slowly, and failed to quickly find the goddamned striped tie that goes with the goddamned royal blue shirt; people, in other words, who do not have to get to school to finish grading the essays that had to be returned that day.