I noticed something at the last cocktail party I attended (which was also the first cocktail party I attended in about fifteen years). The guest list was comprised of a mixed crowd consisting of current and former urban dwellers, who, surprisingly, got along quite well, in spite of one group secretly thinking that the other was out of its mind for living inmoving away from “The City.” But I digress. What I noticed was this: the urbanites seemed to feel more comfortable in a vertical position, arms at their sides (unless they were holding a drink) and feet more or less parallel on the ground. In contrast, their country cousins appeared more at home occupying the available chairs, (never enough chairs for everyone, but I digress again,) body at a ninety degree angle, knees apart, arms slightly extended, with the right foot at least twelve inches ahead of the left foot. I thought this odd at first until I realized that this was a perfectly natural accommodation to a life-style choice. Living in the suburbs means living in your car!
I, personally, have experienced the metamorphosis. After spending the majority of my life as a city girl, my husband and I decided one day to give it all up for the greener, quieter life of a small community. I knew how to drive, but hardly needed to. Since the move, however, my car and I have become co-dependents. At first, I thought this was a bad thing – that is, until I discovered the wonderful, efficient world of drive-through, (or as we aficionados efficiently call it, drive-thru), a world to which mere pedestrians have no access. Why, just the other day, I completed an entire list of errands without once leaving my auto. I tell you, city people, life does not get any better than this.
My day begins with a run (I now use the term figuratively) to the dry cleaners. From my driver’s side window I peer out at a large stomach and hairy arms as a man without a head (I assume it is a man due to hairy arms, but you never really know) accepts my dirty laundry through a slot in his window, and passes me my clean clothes on a hangar, which I then placed on the little hook behind me. (Why was there a little hook behind me? Did the car designers anticipate drive-thru?) I pay, receive my change, say thank-you to the non-responsive stomach, and drive on. Next stop, the drug store. I used to go inside, but no more. I pull right up to that magic window, say my name to a somewhat flatter stomach, and out comes my prescription. Wonderful!
Now I glance at the seat next me and notice the letters I have to mail. No problem; there’s a drive-up mailbox just around the corner. Maneuvering my car just right, I pull up beside it, lower my window, and plop those babies right down the chute. I’m getting really good at this, I compliment myself, better than last time when I didn’t get close enough and actually had to undo my seat belt!
I look at my watch and see that it’s time for some mid-morning refreshment. Aha! Starbuck’s Drive-Thru; just the thing. This is a two-part process. Somewhat more challenging, but after the success at the mailbox, I’m up for it. I stop at Station One and again lower my window. A disembodied voice encased in considerable static, comes through a little metal box, greets me, and asks for my order. At least, I think that’s what heshe said. In any event, I yell out my order, and drive up to Station Two, where I’m lined up behind three other cars because some #@%#& driver no doubt ordered six lattes: grande, vente, and whatever, mocha, vanilla, decaf and caf, iced and hot, one pump or two, whipped cream or no. I sit, rapping my fingers on the steering wheel, trying not to be impatient, and tell myself it’s a small price to pay for the lack of wear and tear on the soles of my shoes.
And thus, I steer through the rest of my day. The drive-up teller at the bank, a naughty jaunt through McDonald’s, followed by a trip through the car wash to get rid of the tell-tale smell of the French fries. And then the library drive-by book drop-off. The satisfaction of accomplishment is more than I can express. It almost cancels my greatest fear – that one day my car windows will get stuck in the closed position and ruin life as I now know it.
The only down side of my day was getting a traffic ticket on my way home. But even the officer told me not to get out of my vehicle.
I believe I have become a drive-thru junkie. I am actually considering a cross-country trip for the singular purpose of visiting those that I have to date just read about and not yet experienced: a drive-thru wedding chapel, confessional, strip club, funeral home, even an emergency room! They exist; I’ve seen the photos.
I am having drive-thru dreams; perhaps I need a drive-thru therapist. The other night I imagined a drive-thru pick-up window at my grandchildren’s pre-school. I drove in, give their names, opened the back window, and down they came on a slide, right into their car seats. They thought it was great fun and I was not required to sacrifice my ego by having to stand in the waiting area next to those “younger,” sexy moms in their workout clothes.
So you see, the world of Drive-Thru presents endless possibilities. We just have to be creative. If we can think outside the box, we may never have to step outside the car!