Everybody knows you shouldn’t mess with a dog when it’s eating. But last week, I learned another little handy tidbit of knowledge: Never cut in front of someone at the drive-thru. Even by mistake.
This whole week has been insanely busy for me. Besides the chaos of a typical week at my house, I was also leaving on Friday to go on my annual road trip up to Michigan with my boys.
But before I could go anywhere, I had to pack, get the car ready — and write next week’s newspapers.
By Thursday evening, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel: I had gone shopping and bought snacks and a couple of new movies for the kids to watch along the way, filled the car up with gas, got an oil change and written three quarters of my articles for the paper.
I planned on writing late into the night on Thursday in an attempt to make my Friday (the day we were to leave) go as smoothly as possible. Because I didn’t feel like cooking dinner, I decided to cheat and just grab the kids a couple of Happy Meals from McDonald’s.
Let me tell you, the whole new concept of the “double drive-thru” has never really sat well with me. The big sign that tells you to pick “any lane, any time” advertises the convenience and ease of the new system and gives the illusion of faster service.
In reality, the double drive-thru lane is a war zone where only the bravest among us will ever merge into the pay lane to get our food.
It begins as soon as you pull up …
Pop quiz: In lane “A” there are four cars and in lane “B” there are three. Which lane do you choose? “B,” right? But wait, plot twist! Lane B has a minivan with three kids all special ordering their burgers because God forbid little Susie even sees a pickle.
See? You chose wrong. It’s tricky and I’ve not quite perfected the art as of yet.
Either way, once you’ve committed yourself to a lane, the real challenge begins: Moving up to place your order at the speaker is just the beginning …
Following the successful placement of my kid’s chicken McNugget orders I made the mother of all mistakes when it comes to drive-thru etiquette: I didn’t look over to see if the person if the left lane wanted to go first.
Instead, I just followed the car in front of me — inadvertently cut a woman off — and all hell broke loose.
I realized almost immediately what I had done, but as I turned to give the lady an apologetic wave, she began screaming at me, honking her horn and edging her car up so close that I honestly thought she was going to hit me.
Apologetic wave idea went bye-bye. It was on.
“Are you seriously going to hit my car over a burger?” I shouted at her.
She edged closer — the hood of her car now inches from my driver’s side door — glaring at me and shouting obscenities.
At this point, I couldn’t have let her go ahead of me even if I had been so inclined (which I wasn’t). There were cars behind me (obviously enjoying this redneck spectacle) so I couldn’t back up. There was only one way this way through: forward.
And that made her even more mad.
Could I have just rolled up my window, avoided eye contact and possibly diffused the situation a little?
Did I? Nope.
I went the other route … I smiled my biggest smile and I blew her a kiss.
I know, I know! I can’t believe I did it either … It was not my best moment — and yet it felt. So. Good.
Anyway, I moved up, paid for my kid’s dinner and made it home without further incident. But the funny thing is once I reached the food window and dared a glance in the rear-view mirror — she wasn’t behind me.
The guy behind me didn’t let her in either.