Windows of Opportunity

by Robert Adcox

There are any number of opportunities for meals in the Roanoke valley. From supermarkets to fine dining overlooking magnificent views, one can find any taste to suit his or her palate. One only need reference the yellow pages, sweet-talk one’s mate into supping al fresco on a warm evening, and the night is made complete with excellent food, drink, and close companionship.

And then there’s the drive thru.

While waiting to retrieve my order from the cashier at the window the other day, I mused about the service at the five star hopeful that had recently served my plate of brussel sprouts artistically dribbled with some kind of sauce apparently concocted from honey, Maalox, and pine bark. Aroused from my reverie by the guy behind me who introduced himself as “Let’s Move It, Son”, I putted around to the speaker. “Three cheeseburgers and a medium French fry, please” was met with “was that a combo of three seasoned fries and a cheeseburger?” Restating my order, I was met with “I have three cheeseburger combos and a medium fry. Nine eighty-six. Please pull around.” Not wanting to hold Mr. Move It up any longer than I had to, I rounded the lane to the window and corrected my order to a stern-faced shift manager who looked for all the world like he hadn’t slept since rocks became dirt.

Don’t get me wrong. I love going through the drive thu. I respect anyone who has to work in fast food, having done so myself many years ago. But there’s a source of humor to be enjoyed when one juxtaposes the grim determination of serving burgers and fries to equally and grittily determined drivers who treat the drive-thru as though it’s a pit stop in the Daytona 500. Such certainly seemed the case as the guy in front of me frantically began yelling to the cashier that he didn’t have time for his change and receipt. Peeling away seemed to inspire Mr. Move It behind me, who was now leapfrogging his car forward in an apparent attempt to scare me into doing a burnout for the next nine or so feet necessary to pull astride the cashier’s window.

What a time to be a dollar short.

Scrambling to find my atm card, Move It Son and Mr. Stern both apparently were wishing for some psychic ability to make me miraculously produce the five dollars and seventy-two cents necessary to purchase the meal I’d soon be eating much to the viewing pleasure of those dining in the views overlooking we mere peasants. Beatrice, two cars behind me, was also harried, taking orders for her fellow office workers. I know this because the dear woman was kind enough to put her phone on speaker so we could all learn that Jocelyn can’t digest onions since her operation last fall.

Having calculated the exchange rate between dollars and hamburgers, I pulled away looking forward to enjoying my meal. The rearview mirror told me a story: Mr. Move It Son was still lurching his car, and poor Beatrice looked shaken by the impending lunch orders compiling over her speakerphone. I couldn’t quite make out who was in the Camaro behind Beatrice, but that person evidently loves country music. He certainly didn’t mind sharing it with the rest of us.

As it turns out, fast food provides the same degree of intimacy that fine dining offers. It might be defined by someone expressing gastrointestinal issues over a speakerphone, but trust me. It’s there.

All you need to experience it is the right window of opportunity.