Last night on the way home from camp the kids and I went through the Burger King Drive-Through. When we were next in line for the window I noticed that the guy in front of me had his reverse lights on, so I stayed back about 10 feet – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people back up for something, forget they’re in reverse, then hit the gas. When it was my turn at the window, the BK cashier asked me to pull forward and then back up. I was so surprised and busy processing what she was saying and trying not to back up into the window with my mirror and asking for salt and checking the orders that I didn’t get a chance to ask her why. But I guessed that she had asked the guy in front of me to do the same thing. As I was leaving I looked in the review mirror I saw that the guy behind me was doing the same thing as well. WTF?
It bothered me all night that I couldn’t figure out what the purpose was. I went back in my mind to my McDonald’s and Arby’s days, but at both places I made the food, I didn’t work the Drive-Through. Then, finally, it hit me: I’ve seen big timers in some restaurants, timing how long each Drive-Through order was taking. There must be a sensor somewhere that stops the clock and starts timing the next order! Was she asking each car to stop the clock on their order so that the restaurant’s stats would look good?
I went back this morning, in the interest of investigation – not because I was dying for a Croissan’wich. Once again, when I got to the window, I was asked to pull forward and back up. I said “Why? Are you trying to stop the timer?” She said yes. I said something to the effect of “But that’s cheating. How will the process get any faster if they think you’re already really fast?” I know enough about fast food restaurants to know that they really study this stuff. There are systems that figure out when you should drop fries based on how many cars are in the Drive-Through lines. There are McDonald’s that have outsourced their Drive-Through order-taking jobs to call centers. Corporate sure as hell wants to know for how long people are sitting in the Drive-Through.
The BK worker admitted that yes, it was cheating, but that the restaurant is given time goals each week and they’re not meeting them. So I said something like, “But how will the times get faster if you don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem?” She told me I didn’t have to pull forward if I didn’t want to. I’m not really sure it was necessary for her to tell me that. Was the alternative for her to hold my food hostage until I pulled forward?
When I go through a Drive-Through, I want the process to be fast. And more often than not here in Brooklyn, the process is anything but. So as a customer, it is absolutely not in my best interest to help Burger King trick corporate into thinking that they’re already speedy. I’m insulted that they’d ask.