Businesses are always pushing the envelope with drive-thru options. Some work, some don’t, but no company thinks it will go broke by assuming that many Americans would rather do just about everything while their plump behinds are resting comfortably on the pillow-like seats of their vehicles.
But . . . a drive-thru option that allows you to take a gander at the dearly departed from behind the wheel of your car? That’s what one Virginia funeral home is offering. Just go to the drive-thru lane, take a good look through the plate-glass window at the deceased, check the sign saying when the burial will occur, and head on home.
Well, sure. Why not? It’s a pain to get out of your car and wait in line during calling hours. Those lines seem to take forever, don’t they? And then, when you reach the casket and the distraught family members, it can be such a downer trying to say a few comforting words and express how much the person who has passed meant to you. And standing next to a corpse in a casket can be so creepy! If you see it through the window, you avoid those awkward moments with the bereaved and can see the body from a comfortable physical and emotional distance — like it was on TV.
And speaking of TV, why not just set up a “casket cam” that sending streaming video of the decedent to anyone who logs in on the internet, and makes death even more convenient for us all? It seems like the logical next step.
Recently Kish asked me to stop by the dry cleaners to pick up some clothing. “Just go to the drive-thru window,” she added helpfully.
Eh? A drive-thru dry cleaners? Intrigued, I drove to the side of the dry cleaner shop, where there was an open door rather than a drive-thru window. I summoned the clerk, gave her our name, and then watched for minutes as she moved the moving hanger line around for several loops, looking for our clothing. It was vaguely embarrassing to see into the rear of the store as she searched, like looking through an open door into a stranger’s kitchen and seeing them eating at their table. After she found our clothing, the clerk came back over to the open door and handed me the hangers.
At that point I realized that the drive-thru concept really didn’t work. Unlike a bag of burgers or a Coke, clothes on hangers aren’t easily passed through the driver’s side window. You have to wrangle the hangers through, dragging the clothes against the side of the car. And once they are inside, what do you do? Leave them bunched up in your lap? Toss them into the passenger seat? From a sitting position in the driver’s seat, only a contortionist could reach around and hang them on the hooks above the back seat windows. So, I had to open the door, clumsily get out with the clothes — which, of course, defeats the entire purpose of a drive-thru — and hang them properly. The lady watched my fumbling performance, probably chuckling inwardly at a show she’s seen over and over again.
Are Americans really so lazy that we demand that a drive-thru option be available for every imaginable consumer business? Here are two simple rules that should be applied to determine whether a drive-thru concept is well-suited to the business. First, does the business sell a product that can be delivered comfortably through a driver’s side window? Second, can a reasonably coordinated driver do something with the product without ruining it?
I’m hoping these two simple rules prevent doomed yet irritating business ideas like drive-thru haircuts, drive-thru tailors, and drive-thru wedding cake bakeries.