Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You Can Stick that Drive-Thru Up Your Tailpipe

Happy Wednesday everybody.  Drive-Thrus are today's topic and as you can probably guess, I don't like them.  And it has nothing to do with climate change, although there are probably some good points to be made there.  Here's my issue.

When I go into a Tim Horton's that has a drive-thru and it is a peak time, it becomes quite obvious that the staffing priority is the drive-thru and not the regular counter serving me and the other walk-up customers.  The regular line will have two cash registers each with a single employee, but the drive-thru will have a team of highly trained cyborgs running around with their headsets abuzz.  

The people in their cars are obviously in a hurry or they would have got out of their cars, but us chumps who walked into the restaurant obviously have plenty of time to wait in line.  Things move much faster at a Timmy's without a drive-thru.  All I ask is equal staffing for the innies and the outies.

Meanwhile back at the ranch.  Have I ever told you about the time...

I was standing in line on a B.C. ferry with my lovely and talented wife Sondra.  The line was in the cafeteria and right in front of us was Jack Webster, rest his soul, of B.C. television fame.  For those of you who don't know Webster, he was an older scottish fellow who was cantankerous and had excellent guests on his program.  Make sure to use a strong scottish accent when reading his quote below.

In the cafeteria they had some gingerbread men but the sign said gingerbread people.  One of us read the sign aloud and Webster turns to us and says, "Is that what they are calling them now?  They're a bunch of crazies".  


  1. What on earth are you going to Tim Horton's for? I have no problems with drive-thrus, but your beef sounds similar to mine: When you're in a shop -- physically standing there at the counter! -- and the clerk answers the phone just ahead of you to answer tons of inane questions from a *potential* customer on the phone. Oh, that riles me up. I usually stand there and say nothing. And I don't get like that too often, as you know.

  2. Well Jack, let me give you the prairie perspective on this issue. As you may know, the Eastern end of Western Canada hasn’t caught on to the coffee shop phenomenon as much as the balmy coastal regions may have. West coasters go to the coffee place to visit friends, socialize and (maybe most of all) to be seen there, or be seen with a particular brand of coffee cup in their hand while walking to work or sitting at a meeting. People on the prairies haven’t been brainwashed to feel that a five dollar coffee must be 5 times better than a one dollar coffee. Besides I ask you, when was the last time that Starbucks offered to hide prizes in the rim of their cups?? I can speak to this as I have admitted my past coffee addictions and have walked through more than 12 steps…
    Most people here patron coffee shops like Timmy’s to get coffee and carry on with their day (unless of course you happen to be Jean Cretien meeting with Rick Mercer). Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of retirees that go to the local Tims to meet, socialize and bitch about the weather. That seems to be the local pass time these days and if it was a winter Olympic event, Saskatchewan would be battling it out with Antarctica and Siberia for the top of the podium. My point being that these folks have oodles of time on their hands and may not care about standing in line. In fact, that might be the better part of their daily exercise for the day!
    Having said that, please allow me to share with you the virtues of the drive through:
    1- The drive through lets you get speedy service (you made that point very well);
    2- The drive through allows you to remain warm and comfortably seated in a relaxing, semi-reclined position while you wait for your favorite beverage and sugary snack;
    3- The drive through allows you to stay out of contact of the germ infested line-ups, standing nose to nape with others who just are returning from the hockey arena;
    4- The drive through shelters you from the negative energy of those standing in line, frustrated by the ineffective organization of their line compared to the drive through line (or the cashier answering outside telephone calls from potential customer – Good one Guy, that’s one of my peeves too!)
    5- But my personal favorite reason for using the drive through is that it ensures that I don’t miss any of my favorite Stewart McLean, Jonathan Goldstein or “The Debaters” episode.
    As for the global warming thing goes, people here leave their cars running while they go in to pick up their coffee (and sometimes even while they sit and drink it!!)
    Cheers Jack, I love the blog, keep it up.

    Frozen in Saskatchewan

  3. I'm a little late chiming in here, but I second Guy's phone-vs-in-person service gripe. A similar thing happened to me on Sunday while I was trying to book a tennis court (in person). I was second in line and had been waiting a few minutes when the phone rang (therefore, in my mind, the caller was clearly next in line AFTER me). The clerk answered the phone and gave the caller the one available court, thereby leaving me courtless for another week (players can't book a court more than exactly one week ahead; i.e. to the minute). Grrr. In-person customers should receive the same calibre service that phone or drive-thru [sic] customers enjoy. I won't say "better", though, because I happen to love online service (no human contact--yay!) and I don't want to contradict my own argument simply because I prefer the computer to the phone. Cheers!

  4. Also, Jack, re: your "gingerbread people" experience: BC Ferries has a long and storied history of cryptic cafeteria signage. My favourite was a hastily-scrawled cardboard sign that read:

    Hot Fresh "Sticky" Cinnamon Buns

    So, did that mean that the buns weren't really sticky? That they were only mildly sticky, or sticky imposters? That it was dialect, a particular regional style of bun? I had to order one to find out. To my further delight, upon giving my order to the clerk, she swiveled her head toward the line cooks in a well-practised manoeuvre and hollered, simply, "STICKY!" Apparently, 'sticky' was the ONLY qualifier that mattered here. Who cared if it was fresh, or hot, or even had cinnamon? By God, it was STICKY!

    And the bun? It was fine (and, for the record, only moderately sticky), but the sign and the waitress-lingo made my day.

  5. B.C. Ferries does have a way with language. How about the "elevators available to people who have difficulty negotiating stairs"? Do they really have to be that verbose?

    Sometimes their use of multi-syllable words backfires, as in the time an announcement came on instructing passengers that "running was NOT prohibited on the vessel".