February 24, 2020

Drive-thru Donut Dilemma


It was my turn to bring donuts to work, so I made a detour to the donut shop. Because it was a little after 5 AM, I was not surprised when I saw only one car in the parking lot. The lights were on inside the building, but no customers and only one employee behind the counter.

“Great,” I thought, “no line.”

I tried the door and found it locked. No problem, I went down a little way, and tried the other door. It was locked, too.

Confused, I looked at the woman inside, and she waved her arm around her head in a big circle, which I interpreted to mean either “We’re closed; there’s too many flies,” or “Go around through the drive-thru.” I was not pleased.

Drive-thrus are perfectly suited to those situations that involve a cut-and-dried transaction, like a tollbooth. They are not suited for any occasion where decisions have to be made. This didn’t happen the last time it was my turn to buy donuts. Apparently, customer service at the front counter at this time of day had fallen victim to a cost-cutting measure.

When I buy a dozen donuts, I don’t just say “Give me a dozen and mix ‘em up.” I want to see what’s on the shelf. I want to pick and choose between this one and that one. Or I might be looking for something new. If they look pathetic, I pick something else… but I need to see them.

Now I was going to have to work from memory. This was not good, fraught with the possibility of incurring the wrath of my co-workers, displeased because I had forgotten their favorite.

And even if I got through all this, who’s to say she would give me what I asked for? If I can’t watch as the donuts are placed in the box, I might be miles away before I discovered that I had four chocolate glazed, a sinker, and a big wad of napkins. I did not like this at all.

I drove up to the little sign that said “Place order here.” I stopped, turned off my radio, my air conditioner, and opened my window. It was hard to tell by listening to the distorted voice from the speaker, but I think it was a she who said, “What would you like?”

“A dozen donuts, please; start with four Boston cremes, two with chocolate frosting, two with maple, two raspberry–but only if they’re not sugared, otherwise they’re too messy–two lemon filled, a long tom…Let’s see how many is that?”

She said, “What?”

“Huh? What have you got so far?”

“Just drive up to the window.”

I drove up to window, where she waited with a paper and pencil, and I started again. I couldn’t remember what I’d ordered, how many were left or what I could pick from. I tried counting on my fingers and forgot that I have five fingers on one hand and not six. Halfway through my order a guy in a pick-up truck pulled up to the order speaker, so she had to stop with me and ask him to wait. When she came back to me, we started again.

Through all the confusion I lost count and ordered fourteen donuts.

“Which two do you want to leave out?” she asked.

“Just give me twelve out of that fourteen, I don’t care anymore.”

“Do you want me to drop off two Boston Cremes?”

“No, anything but those; I gotta have four Boston Cremes.”

Finally, I got a box that presumably held my dozen donuts and paid for them, but before I drove away, I overheard the conversation between her and the guy in the pick-up.

“I want a cup of black coffee and one donut, one of those b-o-y ones.”

“One what?” She said.  (I was puzzled too, so I lingered. What the heck is a b-o-y donut?)

“One black coffee and one b-o-y donut.”

“I got the coffee. What kind of donut?”

“A b-o-y one. You know, they’re usually in the upper left corner of the case.”

“You mean a Boston Creme?” (I would have guessed Boysenberry.)

“Yeah, that’ll work.”

I guess some guys just handle drive-thrus better than I do.

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