Walk Right In

I definitely have a “contrarian” streak in me. And not just because I’m a senior either, although I’ll concede that the streak may have become deeper in my…seniority. 😉

A contrarian method is perfect for poker players. When you have a great hand, you want to look weak and hope someone will take the bait so you can win most of their chips. That usually only works big once but after that you can “reverse” your play. When you have a mediocre hand and it appears everyone else does too, your “table image” from that previous play allows you to bet if everyone else has checked because they believe you’ve got a good hand.

Investing in the stock market often also supports a contrarian approach. When most folks are selling, prices are dropping and so it may be a good time to buy for “value.” When most folks are buying, prices may be rising and so it may be a good time to sell and lock in your gains.

What I find…interesting…is how many folks in the U.S. don’t like to walk much. At the mall, I’ll see cars circling, waiting to find a parking spot close to the entrance rather than walk from an open but more distant spot. Not me.

Especially in our brutal summer, when the temperature is routinely in the mid to high 90’s, I like to park in the shade so the car isn’t as hot as if I had parked in the open. And most of the shade at the mall is on the end furthest from the entrances. We’re only talking about 150 yards but I rarely have a problem finding one of the few parking spaces under the trees. For me, walking that 150 yards is a bit of exercise which I suspect many of the “circlers” could benefit from.

So it was no surprise to hear on the news that fast food restaurants have found that a good 70% of their business is from the drive-through. And that is borne out by a McDonald’s near me that typically has about six to eight cars in the drive through lane during “busy” periods and only two or three cars parked. But do those drive-in folks park and walk into the store so they can get their order faster? Apparently not, even though McDonald’s parking lot is miniscule compared to the mall’s.

I’m not a fan of drive throughs. I’ll just blame the usual suspect: my Manila childhood. There were no drive throughs when I was growing up. (If there were any, I sure didn’t know about them.)

Our Galaxy was just like this one

Our Galaxy was just like this one

I remember one day my parents told me we were going out for a special lunch at a new restaurant. We got into our Galaxy 500 XL convertible (just like the one at right) put the top down, and drove for what was way too long for lunch. We finally arrived and…

I’d not seen anything like this restaurant before. You didn’t go inside to eat; instead you ate outside in the car. This new restaurant was an A & W, which I’ve not seen in years but which is hanging on in some cities.


I found it… interesting… that the servers skated out to take our order. I remember liking the root beer, although I liked the local “Sarsi” (sarsaparilla) better. I don’t even remember the hamburger so it must not have impressed me.

Today’s “A & W” is Sonic, which I do like. Not for their burgers but for their hot various hot dogs. My favorites are the foot long quarter pounder with chili and the Chicago dog, which has hot peppers.


Sonic’s “Chicago” dog

Although Sonic is a “drive in” and you can order from, and eat in, your car as you do with a drive-through, I don’t like to eat in the car and so I sit at an outside table. Not in summer when it’s way too hot to be outside even in the shade but fall and spring are nice for dining “al fresco.”

The Sonic in my neighborhood is right across from a city park built around a “lake” (retention pond. So after eating that hot dog and fries, I can walk the calories off with a stroll around the lake.

Lake Ella

It’s about a 3/4 mile walk around Lake Ella








Next time you pull into a drive-through with a long line, why not be a contrarian and park instead  and go inside so you can be served faster. Just walk right it…!


5 responses to “Walk Right In

  1. Based on the title of this post, I was hoping you would play that song. I’ve always loved it…even if it’s not the most complex lyrics ever written lol.
    As a veteran of McDonald’s and three other fast food restaurants, I can tell you this: you will not get your food faster by going inside. Technically, orders are supposed to be filled in the order received, but drive-through always has priority. This is because by going through drive-through, you have signaled that you’re in a hurry. By coming inside, you’ve signaled that you aren’t so much in a hurry. It’s that simple. It really is a psychological issue. Waiting in line in a drive-through seems to take forever. McDonald’s in particular knows this. They are truly geniuses, and like Walmart (regardless of how I feel about them), have studied every aspect of their business down to the most minute detail. You may not notice that it takes longer inside, because it might only be a matter of seconds longer.
    Here’s my tip for getting fresh food at McDonalds; always order something “special”. Like a hamburger without ketchup. Then when you get it, ask for a ketchup packet.

    • Well FN, this post was a happy marriage of convenience.

      I’ve always liked that song too and have wanted for a few months to write a post around the title but had no idea how to do that.Then, I saw the news about drive-throughs and…

      > might only be a matter of seconds longer.

      All those places favored drive-throughs over walk-ins? Not right…but I can handle a few seconds.

      Luckily, I don’t go to fast foods places too much and, contrarian that I am, I avoid the usual peak times.

      One of the “benefits” of growing up in the Philippines is that I don’t have the “yesterday” time frame many “rush rush rush” Americans do. Although the South is slower than other parts of the country I understand, and that appears to be so from my travels to other regions.

      > tip for getting fresh food…always order something “special”

      I usually do that when I need a Whopper. I leave the mayo off, which cuts a huge number of calories. I’ve noticed while waiting for the food that many folks request “no mayo.”

      Of course, “make it fresh” places like Five Guys and Moe’s don’t have that “heat lamp” issue. Which is one of their appeals.

  2. Well SC you hit some of my sweet spots today.

    I spent many a fond hour at my local A & W. It was right at the end of Boggy Bayou between valparaiso and Niceville. I enjoyed the rootbeer and the hamburgers for several years. The car hops were all older than me and provided interesting distractions from the day to day trials of adolescence. Unfortunately the location was hurricane prone and was frequently and ultimately out of commission. By then I could branch out to the big city of Fort Walton and McDonald’s and Tony’s pizza. I dearly loved rootbeer before the government got involved and the FDA ruined it. You had to drink it before it spoiled so that was enough of an excuse to pig out.


    Next time you are in Tampa you have to try Mels hot dogs. Try a Mighty Mels Basket. Hell, try 2 of them. I was in on July 3 this year and there was Mel. He said i was too hot to play golf. I noticed his Mercedes 280 SL with HOTDOG1 license plate in the little parking lot

    Lastly Lake Ella has held a special place in my heart since the 50’s. I still take a walk around it each year just to remissness the many fond memories.

    Hope this gets out from the Mountain Top in Murphy NC.

    • Hi PT,

      So you’re escaping our summer with a stay in NC. Good for you!

      Mel’s reputation is wide indeed, but unfortunately I’ve not had the pleasure. It’s on my bucket list!

      Locally, Dog Et Al has a reputation but I’ve not been there either. I should have visited when I was working downtown for about a year before retiring when our office moved to the Collins Building. I think the owner lives a few blocks from me on Meridian because I sometimes see a Dog Et Al trailer in the yard.

      As for root beer, there’s a small “slots only’ casino in Vegas, just off the Strip in back of Bally’s, called Ellis Island. It has a well regarded micro-brewery and offers fresh brewed root beer too which has a nice strong “not so sweet” flavor, compared to “in the can or bottle” root beer.

      For many years, they had a “not on the menu, you have to ask for it” special for a sirloin steak dinner with big salad, and baked potato with you choice of their brewed beers (including the root beer) for under $10. We ate there once every visit and that’s when I had the root beer because I’m not a beer fan although I can drink the fresh brewed beers.

      A micro brewery recently opened up on Thomasville, in the block south of 7th Avenue. Brass Tap I think it’s called.

  3. Drive-through is always, always favored. Just observe. Usually 3 people or more in drive-through will be served before you get your food. You don’t have to take my word for it. And avoiding peak times is not a good strategy either if you want fresh food from fast food restaurants…unless you take my advice about making a special order 🙂

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