Once when I was 13, we made stops at five different McDonald’s on a trip from Virginia to Michigan. The golden arches have always called my name.
My culinary tastes have grown as I’ve gotten older, but if I’m on the road and need coffee, a quick bite, or just a bathroom break, McDonald’s is still my go-to fast food joint.
But McDonald’s and I, we’re on a steep downhill slide because I detest two-lane drive-thrus.
The line always looks shorter than it really is. Without fail, I choose the slow lane. Someone always tries to skip in front of me when it’s my turn. And though more people can fit in the drive through, they don’t make the food any faster.
I’ve started boycotting the ones with two-lane drive thrus. Sometimes you get in a pinch, though.
A few weeks ago, Matt and I were on our way to an appointment in Knoxville. We only had a few minutes to spare but we were hungry, and all we could find was a McDonald’s with a two lane drive-thru.
The line didn’t appear to be long, but once we were trapped in it, it would not go. They skipped over us twice to take orders in the other lane. When they did finally take our order, they apparently stopped giving out food altogether, and we sat. And sat. While we looked at this sign:
That’s about the time the ranting began, and then came the evil tweets to @McDonalds addressing their ill-thought out concept of the double ordering lane.
When we finally arrived at the second window–the pick-up window–the girl looked perplexed. “Did you pay for your food?” she asked.
Matt was driving, but he looked to me for an answer. I didn’t have one.
Was it possible we had been inching through the drive-thru for 20 minutes and had failed to pay for our food?
“Honestly, I’m not sure,” Matt finally replied.
“Wellll… they don’t start making the food until you pay,” she said, “And your food is here, so you must have paid.”
Matt asked if she needed to make sure.
“No, you’re good.”
Matt shrugged, handed me the bag, and pulled away from the window. “Did we pay for that food?” he asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“But I offered to pay, so it’s okay, right?”
“She said you paid,” I said.
“Were we so busy complaining that we didn’t notice the woman at the first window waiting to take our money?” he asked.
“I remember seeing her,” I said, “Maybe we paid. I think she may have told us to have a nice day.”
I paused. “Or maybe not. Maybe we just sat there going off in front of her and then drove right on by. Maybe we didn’t pay, and they still gave us our food, because they didn’t want to mess with us. We’re like… we’re like Bonnie and Clyde.”
We beat the system. It was exhilarating, invigorating! I grabbed Matt’s hand and raised it in victory, “Bonnie and Clyde!”
He gunned it as we merged back onto the interstate. “Yeah! We should look for a cliff!”
“That was Thelma and Louise,” I said.
“Oh, yeah. You know? I’m not sure we’re really Bonnie and Clyde material.”
“Probably not,” I replied, passing a cheeseburger over the console.
In truth, we’re probably closer to Shirley and Carmine than Bonnie and Clyde, but it sounded good. And nothing beats believing you got free food.