WTF at the drive thru

What the heck is going on with fast food drive through windows these days? Back in the good old days, you would pull up to a Radio Shack tin can speaker. You would hear the customary wonka-wonka-wonka and you just yelled out some food choices. You prayed to Buddha’s brother Carl that you received anything that resembled “food” and you drove home only to be disappointed that the great speaker box had given you “Mr. Minced Fish” instead of a “MegaBurger”.

I guess the wheel’s started shooting off a few years ago when Wendy’s began throwing up your order on an LCD. This was a pretty good check & balance because – at the very least – it showed that the person listening to your order knew you wanted double mustard and no pickles. Still, there was no guarantee that what you received would be what you ordered, mind you, but it did give some level of satisfaction that the wonka-wonka man understood English.

Then McDonalds had to go and shake up the whole drive thru think with face to face ordering. I’m sure this was a brilliant idea at the marketing meeting, but it’s quite clear to me that none of the suits that came up with this idea ever watched a pimply-faced fifteen year-old ever search in vain for the words “Big Mac” on a register. The drooling, red-faced frustration only served to highlight the acne infestation. This is not a good way to sell food.

The worst offender by far, however, is the “canned welcome” that some joints are now using. Have you heard this? Some nice sounding lady comes on the speaker and says, “Hi! Welcome to {X Restaurant}! Would you like to try a {Special Combo of the Day}?”

At this point, I am clueless to the fact that this is not – in fact – the actual human who will be taking my order. I proceed to question the canned voice about the suggested combo, only to have my question shot down by some grumpy ex-skater who has no clue what the hell I’m talking about – not because he doesn’t know what the combo is, per se, but rather because he probably knows better than to ever order anything from the drive-thru of this place!

Nothing currently irratates me more at drive-thrus than the canned greeting. I understand why it’s there, it’s just such a tease. I mean if I want to dim the lights and wear beer goggles, at least that’s of my own choosing. Don’t tease me with an intelligent human in the drive thru only to leave me with Beavis actually taking my order.

What ever happened to the good old drive thru experience? Why can’t we just go back to me yelling at Charlie Brown’s teacher for curly fries?

The only drive thru that is moderately rewarding these days is Sonic, and that’s just because I’m waxing nostalgic for roller skates and malts. If only I could convince Hooters to go with a Sonic-style drive thru with wings, pitchers of beer, and roller blades!

4 Comments on “WTF at the drive thru”

  1. The Firesign Theatre’s radio programme had some of the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time-Players on the playroll in the early-mid 1970’s. John Belushi did the quintessential wah-wah-wah skit requesting a double cheese burger, onion rings and a large orange drink. The buildup is funny enough, but now that we know what Belushi looked like working up into a frustrated, manic rage…

    JB: SAY IT! Duuuub-bbbble cheeeeeeeese-buuuuuuurrrr-gerrrrrr…

    WAHWAH: Wuuuuubbbbbaaaa weeeez-wurrrrrerrrr…

    (a perfectly timed pause)

  2. Yeah, I think I had the same experience at a certain Krytsal down your way, sans the intercom. It’s amazingly difficult to order anything at 4:00a.

  3. I refuse to go through the drive-through. I will usually go inside the “restaurant”, even if I want something to go. I hate yelling at the speaker. I don’t like sitting around in my car much either. I do make an exception occasionally for Sonic, because: A) there is no inside, and B) They usually get my order right.