"The Land Of The Free". America apparently. Quite how they managed that one when they were one of the last countries to abolish slavery, I'm really not sure...
However, this aside, the American nation has given the world two very big, totally unforgivable crimes. Firstly, they started this horrible "Have a nice day" thing that now plagues the UK. The scary thing is though, while in Britain, people who say this nice little phrase couldn't care less if you got run over by a bus five minutes later, the Americans actually mean it. Of course this has nothing to do with the fact that there are a lot less buses state side.
Secondly, they brought us the drive thru.
For years we've ate the burgers in deliriously "wonderful" fast food restaurants, but now, the drive thru is spreading. Everywhere you go, it's there. What's the attraction? You approach a box. You speak in it. Then (and this is the exciting bit) you get to go to a window, and pay, before moving on again to pick up your grub.
Unfortunately us Brits are not yet fully versed on these delights (though it won't take that long, the way things are going.) For those of you who have never experienced a drive-thru, this is what happens. You go to the box to place your order. Eight out of ten people (myself included) will sit there, waiting to be greeted and to be asked for your order. Does this happen? Nah. You sit there for ages, shouting "Hello" a few times, sounding like a complete idiot. Eventually someone speaks to you and takes your order. You sit there wondering what to do next (there are no instructions for drive-thru virgins) while some bloke behind you honks his horn, wondering when you are going to shift your motor.
Eventually you drive along (after a lengthy slanging match with the impatient bloke behind you) and proceed to hold a conversation with the person at the window (usually male for some reason) who is trying to take your money off you, while simultaneously trying to hold conversations with three other customers at the same time. Finally you get your food, after moving on to another window. Then what? Where do you eat it? How about the drive thru car park? Well these drive thrus are always int he middle of nowhere, so where else can you go. You go to the drive thru as a convenient way of getting your food, so you can sit in the car park to eat it. Hmm. Sounds great.
In case you are wondering about the other two out of ten people who approach the box, I'd better explain. One of those people is bound to get out of the car and start searching for the member of staff whose voice they can hear. They'll probably also park their car and walk up to the windows, before returning to their cars. The other person is rare. It's the person who actually knows what to do at a drive-thru. A rare species indeed. Personally even after purchasing at several drive-thrus, I still can't get it right.
The Americans have introduced drive thru everything, from milkshakes to marriages. The British are just a bit more reserved, and our drive thrus only flog you burgers and chicken. However, I plan to drastically improve and modernise the British fast food industry. I plan to introduce the drive thru fish and chip shop! A testimony to British food and service!
Imagine it! Turn up at the drive-thru box to place your order. Spend ten minutes shouting loudly to attract someone's attention until you are greeted with the "Yeah? What d'you want? Can't you see I'm busy?" At this point the assistant will belch loudly. You however place your order for sausage, chips and gravy. It is at this point that we introduce some Americanisation, as the assistant asks "Do you want fries with that?" You curse, and move onto the first window. You arrive with your assistant looking impatient and staring at their watch, while shouting "What the hell kept you?" You pay and have an argument when you get the wrong change, which is only ended when you get a large belch in your ear.
You continue to collect your food where some gormless youth squeezes his zits before thrusting your meal into your hands and shouting "Have a nice day" while sticking two fingers up at you.
All this would give you a nice, typically British drive thru, because, lets face it, we don;t want all this false cheeriness because some American guru who gets paid far to much, likes it. This is Britain. We are proud to live in a nation of rude and arrogant shop and cafe workers!
After picking up your food from your typically British drive thru though, on your way to the car park, you can be exceedingly British and complain about my rude and arrogant chippy assistants, before failing to complain about them. Ahh, bliss. Long live British traditions!
Next week: details of the drive-thru Argos superstore. I'll have a 21" colour TV, video and a barbecue sauce dip please...
Published on this site on 12 November 2000, this is one of the most Hydra-like articles I'd written in years.
As I recall it had been written some time before it was published on this site - probably around 1997 or 1998, and likely to be around the time a McDonalds drive-thru opened not far from a pub we used to drink in a lot.