Drive Thru America: Thy Shall Not Walk

This was originally a published blog on VailDaily.com in Vail, Colorado 2007

People often blame sugary and fatty foods for the nations obesity epidemic. But driving around the United States another reason is blatantly obvious. Americans refuse to get out of their cars.

You could go a whole day without exiting your car if you tried. And you wouldn’t even have to try very hard. The Post Office in Avon, Colorado has two drive thru mail boxes. People can drive around the side of the building and post their letters from their drivers seat. I wonder why people would do this: surely there would be a mail box closer to your house than to drive all the way into Avon Centre to post these letters but of course, the arm span of a human being does not reach from the curb to the post box anywhere else. God forbid that we would need to open that drivers seat door and walk two steps and extend our arm. If you drove all the way to the post office to begin with why not get out?

Maybe on your way home you need some extra cash. No problems! Avon has at least 3 sets of drive thru ATM’s. Swing out of the Post Office and into the First Bank and up to the ATM conveniently located in a drive thru and grab your money. Wells Fargo has one which is even more convenient. Drive through and grab your money and then swing back around to Burger King’s drive thru and grab dinner.

In Vegas there are drive thru funerals and weddings to mention a few. Is this really the best way we can live our life? By avoiding exercise, avoiding human contact, avoiding burning off a few calories you gained by remaining stationary for too long? To avoid circulating blood around your limbs?

And I know parking in many American cities is…well sometimes a mission impossible but there are valets at every hotel, valets at most restaurants – you drive up to the curb and they take your car. You only have to walk 3 steps to get into the restaurant and then walk 3 steps back to your car once the valet has returned. At airports you get out of your vehicle and you have 6 different nationalities running at you to take your luggage inside because its rude to expect someone who feels the need to pack their entire house in 7 suitcases to actually have to carry them inside themselves. I think if airlines and airports made people carry their own bags at all times, there would be a significant reduction in excess baggage. Either that or Southwest would build a luggage drive thru drop off in swift retaliation to physical health.

There are even drive by shootings. These people can’t get out of their cars to shoot people? They don’t want to climb a flight of stairs to find a good vantage point? They don’t want to have to run when they hear the police siren screeching towards them. The reason there are drive by shootings is probably because these people can’t run – they have spent their lives mailing their letters in drive thru mail boxes, eating all their food from drive thru take out places and paying for it with their cash they withdrew from a drive thru ATM.

There is one place in Avon that does not have a drive through that is ridiculously popular – Walmart. Driving into Walmart can be slightly amusing and frustrating. Here, people have to get out of their cars to get inside. Often you will see people waiting an extra 5 minutes for a car to pull out of his space because this park is 0.5 miles closer to the entrance door than the car park that is empty right beside him. And if there are no parks and you have to drive right down the back of the carpark, people get really pissed. You can see them thinking obscenities, “Now I f****** have to walk 1 f***** mile…why the f*** is everyone here now…is there NO other shops?” And you will see the cars pulling into the two lanes right out the front of the entrance doors. Some people give up altogether and drop their significant other at the front door, drive home and then come back when they call to say the shopping is completed.

I am impartial to this example. Walmart’s car parks are admittedly huge, if you don’t hustle for a good spot you could end up parked halfway to New Mexico and have to walk back. So I do feel you on this one. I guess you could hustle a lift from the camper van that is always parked right at the back of the lot. Is hitch-hiking in a car park illegal?

I asked a person about the whole drive thru phenomenon (in the name of research) – I am not from America and thus do not completely understand the concept. She replied, “I drive to avoid the cold.” I replied, “But you live in Colorado – by choice – and it’s winter. Surely on those real estate brochures or a quick Google search would have taught you it snows here and snow=cold. It’s your choice to live here so why avoid it?” Vail doesn’t seem like the best fit. Why not move to Florida? It’s cold here and there are hurricanes there. It’s always something.

But it is not just Coloradans. I am not being prejudice. All American cities are guilty of laziness. Initially this is an amusing observation made by foreigners when they arrive in America. But when you sit down and think about it, when you see people encased in their own mobile grave – willingly denying their body the right to move and be healthy you have to wonder. Is the convenience of the modern city really a convenience or a vessel to an inconvenient early death?

What do you think of the whole drive thru concept in America? Do you need it? Do you even use the ‘convenience’?

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