I was in the tandem drive-thru line at my local McDonald’s, having just ordered my Egg McMuffin and Diet Coke. A tandem drive-thru is one in which there are two speakers to take customer’s orders and two initial lines of cars that funnel into a single line after the speakers.
As a result, customers must take turns merging into the single line. One car enters and then the other.
Yesterday morning, the drive-thru was moving especially slow. I placed my order, pulled forward, and allowed the car to my right to merge first, appropriately waiting my turn.
When that car finally moved, I depressed the gas pedal and began moving forward, but I was immediately cut off by an older man in a sedan who jumped ahead of me, accelerating quickly and pulling in front of me before I could merge.
I was mad.
There was no way that this guy didn’t know that he was cutting me off. Just the way in which his car shot in front of me was indication enough, but the line was also moving exceedingly slow, so there had been plenty of time to watch the cars alternately merge to know that it was my turn.
He had cut in front of me, and he knew it.
Because the line of cars was still not moving, the man had been forced to stop directly in front of me. Our cars formed a slightly askew letter T, with his car filling the horizontal top line and mine the slightly-less-than vertical line.
Had I pulled forward, the front of my car would have smashed his driver side door.
I had the urge to do just that.
Instead, I glared at the man. But even though I was pointed directly at the jerk, he refused to look in my direction. As I glared, he faced forward, fixated on some spot in the distance, refusing to turn his head even an inch in my direction. He looked like a statue behind the wheel, not moving a muscle.
The jerk was trying to avoid eye contact. He knew what he had done was wrong, had probably not expected to end up in this exceedingly awkward position, and in all likelihood was praying that the line of cars would move quickly so he could escape my interminable glare.
I glared again, leaning forward this time, and still he refused to look in my direction. It was still dark, so I flashed my high beams at him, illuminating this car, but still his eyes remained pointed unnaturally forward and frozen in space.
Finally, I exited my car. With the line still not moving, I stepped out, walked forward and stood directly in front of my car, close enough to lean back on the hood and cross my arms. I was standing less than five feet from the guy, looming over him. Finally, excruciatingly, and probably out of some fear for what I might do, he turned his head and made eye contact with me.
I smiled. I looked at the drive thru speaker, then at my car, and then at his car, motioning the procedure he should have followed moments ago before cutting me.
He turned and faced forward once again, a mixture of fear and irritation on his face.
I did not move.
A few seconds later, he turned again, once again making eye contact with me. Still smiling, I shook my head in disgust.
Then I returned to my car, waiting for the line to move.
My wife can’t stand when someone cuts her in line. It’s one of the only times that I’ve ever seem her become confrontational with a stranger. She will stop the line in mid-stream and demand that the person doing the cutting return to his or her proper place.
It’s quite a sight to behold.
Perhaps I was channeling a little bit of my wife yesterday morning.
Or perhaps I was just being myself.