In 2015, much of our culture has been suburbanized, and accommodating "families" (i.e. exhausted parents with young children) has become a top priority for much of the retail and dining world. Balancing profits against consumer desires usually means taking a tiered approach to running a business, putting certain customers' wishes above others. That's why, for instance, parents are usually met with frowny faces when they ask flight attendants where the diaper changing station is on an airplane. Families do make up some of the airline industry's profits, but not nearly as much as business travelers do. No airline (yet) is willing to forego hundreds of dollars in seat tickets just to rip out a row or two of seats and make bigger bathrooms to help out frustrated parents. If anything, they're finding ways to make the bathrooms even smaller, prompting complaints from parents, as well as passengers who are forced to endure parents' cleverly devised "seat" changing stations. In this scenario, parents of small children are the losers.
But in a lot of other contexts, parents are winning in a big way. Last year I wrote about the controversy surrounding "parent parking spaces," which have popped up in many a parking lot in order to accommodate parents who are maneuvering massive SUVs or attempting to yank giant strollers from their backseat. They're also meant for pregnant women who don't want to walk an extra 100 feet for any number of reasons. Essentially, they treat both pregnancy and parenting as a disability -- which is probably part of the reason so many moms consider themselves "disabled" now once they have children. Anything that takes longer than it used to, before sleeping babies and tottering kids entered the picture, further proves their point. And if there's one thing parents, and moms in particular, are dealing with on a daily basis, it's attempting to run errands with their kids. Talk about the ultimate in feeling disabled in society! Some kids don't even want to wear shoes, much less calmly make their way through a grocery store. Can you even imagine how annoying that is?? (Answer: Yes, anyone who's spent five minutes or more around small children can imagine that quite easily.)
The same principle applies to drive-thrus, which are already the pinnacle of laziness in any civilized society. Millions of people use them every day, and it's safe to assume that the vast majority of those people are not actually disabled in any way. There are reasons people might feel disabled when pulling up to a fast food location or Starbucks and choosing whether to park or go through the drive-thru (it's cold, it's raining, you're sick, you're old, you have sleeping babies or pets in the car, etc.), but ultimately the decision comes down to this: For most people, going through the drive-thru is already a negotiation; if it's fast food, it's a means to an end, and if it's Starbucks, you're in need of caffeine. The whole point is that these items can be served quickly and cheaply for people on the go, so the chances of customers getting out and ordering at the counter are about as high as deciding to just cancel their order and go make lunch or a latte themselves.
In other words, in the drive-thru line, we're all in it together. We're all lazy, or efficient, depending on how you view patronizing these establishments, and that's that. Except -- two things. One, the argument has long been made by parents that only moms and dads with small kids should be allowed to use the drive-thru, and two, drive-thru culture IS slightly changing to accommodate families. And who better to kick off this drive-thru revolution than Chick-Fil-A?
You might think this sign is fake because of the typo "usings," but you would be wrong and giving Chick-Fil-A employees too much credit. "Mommy Valet" is a real thing, seemingly dating back to 2011 and enforced by a limited number of participating locations. And from the looks of it, this seems like a pretty sweet deal for parents -- sorry, "mommies" -- who are wrangling their children inside for lunch. From a parent's perspective, this policy is as family-friendly as it gets. Consider one dad's review on the Chick-Fil-A Yelp page in Jacksonville, FL: "While I'm not digging the sexist name of it (how about mommy/daddy valet or parent valet), the idea is genius! We utilized this option and upon our entry into the restaurant our table was already set up with a high chair, kids place mats, and Purell wipes. We don't get that kinda quality service even at some top dollar restaurants around town. As a parent, it doesn't get any better than that!"
Indeed, Chick-Fil-A, in all its discriminatory glory, seems to be showing a heavy preference toward its parent (and child) patrons with this concept. They know which side of their biscuit is buttered, so to speak. But does that mean parents really should get preferential treatment in the drive-thru line? And in fact, isn't this valet policy technically encouraging parents to use the drive-thru even when they're planning on coming inside to sit down, thus holding up the drive-thru line for other, "lesser" customers on-the-go? I'm all for parents having this ridiculous valet option if it keeps things flowing -- and I can appreciate why some parents wish there were drive-thrus for items like bread, milk, and diapers -- but if establishments are going to cater more to parents, shouldn't parents also let up on people who aren't traveling with kids, regardless of the time of day? Isn't that the solution? According to the parents in today's column, no, it's not. Childless people, take heed! Let's check out some examples.
1. Scum Of The Earth
Ugh, what could be worse than an elevator-riding, drive-thru abusing, "family" restroom stall using childless asshole?! You know what else people like that probably do? Go to the movies and expect to sit in silence. Eat at restaurants and expect to chew in peace. Hang out in bars and expect to not trip over a running child. I swear to god, childless people are the fucking WORST.
2. Jennie's "Status"
Right on, Long! And you might want to quit while you're, um, not ahead, Jennie! You know what's lazy? Going through a drive-thru at all! You don't show up to a La-Z-Boy showroom and scold people for reveling in comfort, now, do you? Calling people lazy because they don't park and walk inside to order a #1 on a value menu is like calling bankers greedy. It's kind of inherent to the task at hand, don'tcha think?
3. Parents With Needs
Fun fact: The first McDonald's drive-thru didn't open until 1975. That means up until 40 years ago, parents had NO CHOICE but to walk into greasy establishments and -- eww -- stand in line with their children. Oh, the horror of it all! Kids forced to behave themselves after trudging through the parking lot without getting killed, parents attempting to watch their kids AND order food from an extensive menu AND handle money with a cashier literally every single time they wanted to eat so-called "fast" food. It was an absolute nightmare that led to the magical incarnation of lazy livin' drive-thrus which inevitably led to a bunch of people thinking they're the only special snowflakes for whom the drive-thru exists. Gotta love progress!
4. Exit Lanes For Mamas
Oh HECK no did Meghan allow her poor hungry baby to sit and wail in the drive-thru just so Meghan could get a Pepsi! Pshhaww! As if Meghan, a mama bear who's not afraid to put her paw to the pedal, is going to sit tight in an ordered line of automobiles while her screaming child cries like the helpless baby she is. NO EFFING WAY! She's going to do *whatever* it takes to get that baby on the breast, come hell or high water! Come curbs, trees, or sprinkler systems! As Ronald McDonald is her witness, her baby will never go hungry again. Even if it means Meghan has to get back in the drive-thru line after pulling over to nourish her baby cub. That's called sacrifice.
5. Woe Is Mom
I'm assuming Dan is a stay-at-home dad who is sassy and hilarious, and I'm assuming Erin is having a bit of an "off" day here. Nevertheless, she sounds like a bitter jerk. Judging people for choosing to stay on the phone and go through the drive-thru is one thing, but fat-shaming them is another. Here's a mind-blowing concept: Don't go through the line at Dunkin' Donuts if all you want is a hot tea. Make it at home (takes about 10 minutes), or patiently sit in line and accept that the last shock on earth comes in the form of a lazy person in the drive-thru at a doughnut shop. Take a tip from Dan and put your gripe in perspective. If the biggest irritation of your day so far is another person waiting in line for breakfast, you may want to skip the hot tea and sanctimony and go straight for the Boston Kreme.