Mommyshame

STFU Parents: Woe Is Mom: Here Are The Drive-Thru Rules

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There are few things that parents—and let’s be honest, moms—love more than a drive-thru. That’s why they’re so passionate about them. Ask any mom you know how she feels about a particular drive-thru (or “drive-through,” if you want to be classy about it), and prepare to be deeply engaged. Moms have thoughts about the convenient fast food and coffeehouse service that allows people to stay in their cars whilst purchasing unhealthy, edible indulgences (unless you’re at CVS picking up a prescription, which is a different kind of indulgence). The drive-thru is its own luxury, but most people hate a love/hate relationship with the process itself. On rainy, cold, or awkwardly pantsless days, a drive-thru is a #blessing, no matter the length of the wait. And yet, for frequent users, the drive-thru experience can also be mired in frustration, despite the fact that it’s the laziest conceivable way to purchase something other than getting it delivered straight to your home. For parents, especially, the Amazon Age has proven to be quite handy. The only things that REALLY need to get purchased in person anymore are perishables. And that’s where Starbucks comes in.

Moms love Starbucks; this is a fact. And yes, you could argue that on some level *every* type of person loves Starbucks (teenagers, celebrities, businesspeople, moms, etc.), but the moms who love it have a special kinship with their local ‘bucks. Not with the people inside the Starbucks, just with the coffee itself. I believe the specificity of ordering a coffee at Starbucks combined with the absolute obsession some people have with “their” special order has resulted in some serious drive-thru entitlement, which I wrote about last year in a column that got well over 800 comments. Readers were surprised to learn that some parents firmly believe that the drive-thru should be reserved for parents of small kids, disabled people, and maybe old people, if they’re lucky. Everyone else can park and walk their lazy asses inside. And while I approve of any argument that rules in favor of people going inside an establishment over sitting in their cars, the notion that parents deserve preferential treatment at drive-thrus is pretty laughable. Again, we’re talking about a total luxury here. And yet, moms get pretty disgruntled when drive-thrus don’t cater to their—or their kids’—expectations.

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This is what happens when we (as adults or as kids) are coddled to the point of bitching about a 10-minute “sit” in a drive-thru line. It’s also what has led to parents being addicted to the drive-thru, because using one means they don’t have to unbuckle and re-buckle their kid(s), who might be having a tantrum or taking a much-needed nap. No matter that some of these parents are already driving SUVs that are larger than my Brooklyn apartment; they’re so used to “having it their way” that they’ve come to view the drive-thru as theirs. They’ve taken ownership of the mere concept of the drive-thru, and they would appreciate a little consideration from young, well-rested non-parents who have two perfectly good legs. Ah, what these parents would do to have two legs and two arms again!!! That would be paradise. Instead, they’re trapped inside their posh, technology-loaded cars with their tired, cranky children, who require soooo much effort you literally have no fucking idea.

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Alas, this is how we’ve reached peak drive-thru entitlement, where parents not only scold others for simply using the drive-thru, but also have LOTS of ideas about which “rules” should govern those circular strips of pavement at mom-approved establishments. It’s always kind of a drag when women give in to their most base selves (and I include myself in this lambasting) by tossing out “solutions” to nonexistent, totally pointless “problems,” like “ways to improve already-convenient drive-thrus to be even MORE convenient for moms.” Ugh. But mostly I get a kick out of reading overemotional social media updates about drive-thrus. Does anything get more first world problems than that? Not only do these people get incensed when the drive-thru isn’t meeting their expectations, but they invent ridiculous behavior principles, too. And even when they’re joking, there’s an underlying pathos attached to the fact that we’re really just talking about impatient people waiting in line for coffee or cheeseburgers.

No one should peg an emotion to an individual drive-thru experience or routine. No one should feel strongly enough to get on Facebook and bang out a dumb rant about what an absolute racket the Starbucks drive-thru line was this morning. Drive-thrus are a precious luxury that we must use for good, not for evil. More ‘fun news stories about people generously paying for the car behind them,’ and less ‘parents spelling out precisely who should and should not use the Parent-Thru,’ please. I know for parents out there, the temptation to do this may be lurking somewhere inside you, but I urge you, don’t let your love for lazy-thrus or Triple Venti Non-Fat Caramel Macchiatos overpower your compassion for humanity. Who cares if the person in front of you is old, handicapped, or transporting young kids? Shouldn’t we all cut each other some slack?

According to the parents in today’s column, the answer to that question is “NO.” Let’s check out their drive-thru rants and rules, because hey, we might learn something!

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