Coffee Shops and Drive Thrus

If I gave it much thought, I’m sure I could produce a lengthy list of things I’m afraid of or avoid.  But two very close to the top of that list would be Coffee Shops and a fast food Drive-Thru.


I didn’t even drink coffee until I was 35 or 36 years old. Well, that’s not 100% accurate.  As a child I liked to have what my parents called “Go-Go”.  You would take a drinking glass (usually one that had been a jelly jar in a previous life or maybe had come from a box of laundry detergent) and make a filter from a paper towel by placing it over the top of the glass and pushing down about an inch.  Then you would pour coffee from the percolator and filter out all the coffee grounds—and there were many.  Using a ratio of 1 part coffee to 4-8 parts milk you would then fill the glass, leaving room for 3, 4, or maybe 6 tablespoons of sugar.  That was how I took my coffee back in the day.  As an adult, I had no interest in it until I moved to South Carolina and needed something to warm me up on a winter morning.


So the concept of going into a restaurant dedicated to coffee was overwhelming and intimidating.  Still is. Why can’t they use words like “small, medium, and large?”  And the choice of flavors is more than I can handle.  I can’t read a name or description (like macchiato) and know what it is going to taste like.  Words like latte and espresso confuse me too.  Remember, my previous experience consisted of filtering over-perked coffee grounds through a paper towel.  I would be a regular customer of a coffee shop that had the following on the menu:  Large black coffee with enough of the creamer your wife buys to turn it a very light brown, sweetened the way you like it.


Is that asking too much?


So based on that rational fear of ordering in a coffee shop, you obviously can understand my dread of the Drive Thru at fast food restaurants.


Again, as a kid, life was different.  My hometown had the Dairy Bar—a wonderful family-run diner where you parked your car and walked up to one of two windows to place your order.  (Unless you went inside but my family of six NEVER did that.)  I was never sure which window to use, but one had a bench close to it that allowed me to climb up and BE SEEN as well as actually see what was happening inside, so that was my go-to. When the food was ready, someone would get our attention in the car by holding up a bag, my parents would send a child to the window to retrieve the food, and we would eat it in the parking lot.  Then one day Dairy QUEEN came to town and they had a drive thru. 


Both out of loyalty and taste preference, my family rarely frequented the Dairy Queen.  My mother didn’t drive and I know my father never used the Drive Thru (why would you when you had two perfectly good legs and could walk inside?) so maybe that’s where my anxiety first began.  Don’t even get me started on the physical danger of pulling your vehicle up close enough to read the menu, place the order, and drive forward.  I’ve seen folks at my hometown Dairy Queen fail that challenge. 


But times changed and drive thrus became a necessity. In order to use one today, you must understand strange languages to communicate with the unseen person who is probably covering their mouth with their hand as they speak to you.  To my ears, it’s like the teacher from Charlie Brown has taken a second job!  Wop-pa-wop-wop-wop.


My children will tell stories one day (probably already do) of how inept their father was at placing an order at the drive thru.  It takes incredible skill to mentally assemble multiple verbal orders, convey the need to omit pickles, throw in a late order of fries, and then confirm the order is correct.  I was very thankful when some establishments began to electronically confirm what was just ordered. 


Of course, you ALWAYS drive away from the order station asking “How much did she say?”


  • Nostalgia!!

    Nancy Timmerman
  • Love your recollections of the Dairy Bar and the family loyalty! When my mom retired, her cake said “I’m retired! Go to the Queen!”

    Norma Schendel
  • I can identify w/ everything you said! Please keep writing.
    I want to read everything you produce ; )

    Holly Massey

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