By Sue Murphy
I’m going to apologize right up front. I shouldn’t be miffed about something so inconsequential. I should be kinder, gentler, less prone to muttering disparaging words in quasi-public, but alas, sometimes I am not.
Like today. I was in the drive-thru line and there were, as always, several cars ahead of me. That was fine. Being a seasoned drive-thru veteran, I know the line involves a certain amount of wait time and I factor it in, but today, today it made me crazy.
People handle their drive-thru wait times in different ways. Some converse with their carmates. Others roll their windows down and sing along with the music being piped outside. Still others grip the steering wheel and pounce on every available inch of forward progress. I fall somewhere in the middle, simultaneously trying to enjoy the ambience (why wouldn’t you?) while focusing on keeping the line moving steadily forward.
When a large gap develops in the drive-thru line, people (OK, me) crane their necks to see just who is holding up the line, and invariably it is someone who is using their wait time to catch up on their texts or tweets or other phone-based functions. Eventually, they do look up and lurch forward, but this lack of sustained focus makes the gripper people tense. Actually, it makes everyone tense. Even if you are one of the singing crowd, you entered the line with the expectation of getting your beverage and moving on to some other activity. No one planned to make a day of it.
The problem, as I see it, is that people lose sight of the fact that there are, indeed, people behind them who might have someplace to be, or even if they don’t, would really appreciate it if you didn’t eat up their daylight hours frittering away on your phone.
So, here is my plea: Check the rearview. When there is space to move forward, do it. Do not willfully inconvenience the people behind you. It isn’t nice.
Having said all this, however, I have to giggle, because this situation is sooooo Harold. My late husband was a champion grouser. I think he actually enjoyed having something to grouse about, a cause to champion as he strove to make the world a less irritating place. The girls and I laughingly kept a running list of his Top Ten beefs, and when Harold passed away, I printed them out, along with his picture, and it sits framed on each of our desks.
Beef number one was a classic: “First of all, pick a hair color.” Later, the hair issue was inexplicably resolved and he moved on to, “First of all, wear a belt.”
There were beefs about the timing of traffic lights and the shrinking size of ice cream cartons, but they were all eclipsed the day he stood in the doughnut line behind a lady who wanted a dozen donuts but had given no previous thought to which kind of donuts she wanted and insisted on getting immediate dietary information on each and every one.
I kind of miss all that. Even now, when we come across something openly irritating, the girls and I will smile. “Dad would have loved this.”
Perhaps my drive-thru rant is my way of picking up the Top Ten torch. Or maybe I’m just becoming an old crab. Turns out Harold already had the situation covered with Rant Number Three: “Hang up and drive.” I’m just adding a corollary – “in the drive-thru line.”
Boy, I miss that guy.