Thank you, drive thru.

The concept of a drive-thru is awesome to a new driver. It’s like an obstacle course, a real-life Grand Turismo where at the end I win french fries. Actually, the concept of a drive-thru is pretty disturbing. So you pull up in your gas-guzzling car, because it would kill you to park and WALK in. You’d have to turn off your engine, get out, use your legs to walk in, and finally, make eye contact with the semi-literate taking your order.

First, the menu. Did you know the Atkins fad made it to McDonalds? There are new salads. They’re part of Value Meals because although bread and rice and pasta are evil, soda’s just fine.

Second, the ordering. I’m shouting into a metal box, and some kid is making minimum wage to listen to static on his headset and punch in what he thinks I might have ordered. My high-school boyfriend worked (briefly) in a Burger King where all the mildly competant employees fought to keep away from the drive-thru, leaving only the very new or very stoned to wear the headset.

Then you drive up to the window and hand over assorted bills and receive your food with an amount of change that has no bearing on the amount of money you’ve paid or the price of your meal.

If you’ve done this successfully, you’re sitting in your car with a bag of yummy fast food. Ok, I know what’s in McDonalds and Burger King meals hardly qualifies as food. I read Fast Food Nation and saw Supersize Me. But you know what? I’ll eat their fries anyway. Mmm, salt.

That’s another thing: Salt packets. No, not the fact that no one ever puts enough salt on fries for me (that’s a whole other rant), I’m wondering how many car accidents have been caused by someone looking down for a moment to fish the salf packet out of their McDonald’s bag, or unwrap a burger, or push their plastic straw into the plastic lid on their cup of soda. To be fair, not everyone is as bad a driver as I am. Some people have mastered the art of cellphone chatting, soda drinking or radio-station changing while driving. Stick claims to be able to shave and do the crossword (although not at the same time — I think) behind the wheel. So those with driving skills get, not french fries at the end of the obstacle course, but the big prize. The chance to fulfill our worst American stereotypes, eating greasy food without getting out of our gas-guzzling cars, getting fatter and lazier as our cars spill dirty smoke.

You might not want to stop by the Meg house for dinner anytime soon. I’m going to be cooking a lot of veggies and rice pilaf for the boys. And did I tell you they got me a Nascar game?

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