The struggle is real – every single time.
I coach myself.
“You can do this. You were born for this.”
I do a few warm-up drills.
“Reach to the back seat reach to the front seat reach reach reach”
I breathe deeply, attempting to tune every muscle of my body for the exertion that is to come.
It all happens in less than ten seconds, but therein is the problem. The amount of things that happen in that ten seconds is tantamount to the peak of human ability.
The time has come for the frantic Chick-fil-A pass-off.
One, Two, Three, HUT!
“Hello ma’am I see you have two kids meals with lemonades, a three strip meal with a large iced coffee, and you need Chick-fil-A sauce?”
“That is correct.”
Breathe. You can do this. You do it every week. Way too many times every week.
“Your total is $16.71.”
I hand her my credit card and the marathon begins. Her Ursula-like Octopus arms begin shoving items at my car window in a blur of speed.
Grab lemonade! (“Thank you!” “My Pleasure.”) Pass it back to Ali! Grab other lemonade! (“Thank you!” “My Pleasure.”) Pass it back to Ali as well so Noah doesn’t miss the handoff! Grab kid’s Meals with one pair of fingers and credit card and receipt with other pair of fingers! (“Thank you!” “My Pleasure.”) Set everything down frantically so that she doesn’t toss iced coffee into the car to meet time quota! Grab Iced Coffee! Grab my food! Check for straws and Chick-Fil-A sauce! (“Thank you!” “My Pleasure.”) and DRIVE.
Once again I have completed the feat of the Chick-fil-A Drive-Through Ultra Marathon. All moms in the south are put to this test continuously, as all moms in the south feed their children a diet almost entirely consisting of Chick-fil-A, with a peach thrown in here and there for good measure*.
The drive-thru attendants are finely oiled machines, experts at passing three bags of food into your car while simultaneously swiping your credit card and brewing your fresh and amazingly inexpensive iced coffee. You get the feeling that they’re wearing shock collars under those maroon shirts. If they don’t get all your food out that window within fifteen seconds or neglect to say “My pleasure” every time you say thank you, they will be jolted with a thousand Waffle Watts©, and won’t be able to get that smell of burnt peanut oil out of their hair for weeks.
And then, at some drive-thrus, the pressure has been mounted even further: they now use real, live humans standing in the road to take your order, meaning that you have to know exactly what you want without the aid of the menu board. Sure, they wear a tiny menu written in 4 point font on a thumb ring, but unless you brought your binoculars (and it’s ill-advised to look through binoculars at a woman standing twelve inches from you), it will not suffice.
But ultimately, all of the training, all of the conditioning, all of the physical exertion, all of the mental distress is completely worthwhile: because it keeps you from having to go inside – where there’s a Playplace. Just waiting for your children to climb to the top, get stuck, and panic. Then find half of an abandoned Waffle Fry to eat while they wait on you to slither up to their rescue.
But even that is worth it because of the gift of Chick-fil-A. Or, as my children put it so eloquently,
Ali: “Who doesn’t like Chick-fil-A?”
Noah: “Robbers. Only robbers don’t like Chick-fil-A.”
* Generalizations and exaggerations may be present in this statement. And in this entire blog post. Except about the Ursula arms. They definitely have Ursula arms.