I’d rather park than ‘drive thru’

During the average weekday, I’ve got a strong “worker ant” mentality. I don’t like being interrupted. I don’t like having to stop something once I’m in a rhythm. I don’t like distractions.

So when it comes time for lunch I typically either plow right on through until late afternoon. But if I can’t hold out until supper, and I haven’t brought “leftovers” from home, I usually end up hitting the drive-thru at one of our local eateries here in town. It’s probably one of my worst habits and, at present, my primary obstacle to overall good health.

While fast food may not be the healthiest or “greenest” option, for some of us it is the most convenient one. But even though I’m choosing a quick and dirty solution to a problem caused by my own poor planning and stubbornness, I’ve decided that I’d rather park my truck and dine-in instead of driving through.

Now, I’m no environmentalist but the average drive-thru order takes between 3-5 minutes, enough automobile idling time for all of America to be wasting hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of fuel during their lunch break. It seems especially wasteful when you consider that, for all the seeming ease and speed of the drive through, you’re actually waiting a lot longer. At least, that’s my experience.

One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time.

I noticed it for the first time a few days ago when I stopped by our local McDonald’s for lunch. As I was walking in, I saw a friend of mine in his pickup, about four or five cars back in line. I waved and said hello then entered the restaurant. Inside there was only one person ahead of me in line. By the time I saw my friend’s vehicle drive off, I’d already been served and was half-finished with my meal.

Okay, so maybe that was an anomaly. Still, I think there are other compelling reasons for abstaining from the drive-thru except when absolutely necessary.

First, it’s good to be around people. I say this as someone who’s own preference is inclined toward avoidance and isolation, a common trait of many men inculcated here in the stoic South.

Using the drive-thru allows you to have only a cursory amount of brief interaction with a staffer, then you’re back to the “safety” and privacy of your own automobile. Going inside, sitting down, and eating in a public place leaves you vulnerable to the occasional friendly wave or brief bout of small talk from someone you know. Oh the horror!

Second, it’s good to slow down. I’m preaching to myself on this one. As I mentioned above, I have a tendency toward overdoing it and not giving myself enough downtime. By the end of the day I’m usually pretty burned out, and it’s starting to catch up with me. While I get a lot more work done with a quick drive-thru mission and a hasty meal at my desk, it’s not in my best interests overall.

Taking some time to rest from the morning rush, to eat slowly and “digest” the events of the day a bit better, to reflect and maybe share time with friends, colleagues, or just other members of the community.

It’s too easy to become a worker ant, hurriedly rushing about from one task to the next, seldom stopping and marking time, and missing out on the big picture.

The older I get the more ridiculous I find the idea of “busy-ness.” The more ridiculous I find it to be so caught up and ensnared in work that one misses all the resplendent glories that work serves. It’s an unnecessary drive and briskness that consumes my fellow Americans in everything from eating to working.

In our haste to work like bulls we’re destroying the fragile China shops of our lives.

Life isn’t “one-size-fits-all” or easily dispensed with a formula, and sometimes a brief trip through the drive-thru is a necessary evil, but more and more I’m coming to believe it’s one that should be avoided as a habit.


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