Chalk up another victory for our kill-joy, car-hating justice system.
Last week, an Ontario court ruled that appearing nude at a drive-thru is not a form of free speech. That’s right, if you want that Double-Double on the double quick better keep your Y-fronts on.
The case involved a constitutional challenge by Brian Coldin, a Bracebridge naturist, who was found guilty of “partial nudity that offended public order” for incidents that occurred in 2008 and 2009. These included Coldin twice using two drive-thrus while naked behind the wheel (he claimed he was wearing a towel). Coldin maintained his bareness was meant as a form of public protest. The court disagreed.
“Attending at the pickup of Tim Hortons, of A&W, without one’s pants expresses little meaning about naturism to others,” Justice Jon-Jo A. Douglas told the court. “And it is certainly not perceived as having important meaning.”
Well, I can’t speak for Mr. Coldin, but I can tell the court that any time my pants are removed I always perceive a great deal of important meaning. Still, the real issue here is not nudity. That’s easy stuff. The world can be divided into two groups: People you want to see naked and people you don’t want to see naked. Most of us spend our lives trying to find people we want to see naked who want to see us naked.
No. The problem here is the drive-thru and the strange, transgressive behaviour it seems to engender.
The drive-thru was popularized in 1948 when In-N-Out Burger opened its first restaurant in Baldwin Park, Calif. Customers drove up and ordered through a two-way speaker box. The California drive-thru hamburger was born. Today, almost everything can be purchased in drive-thru form: funerary services, weddings, prayer, banking, hospital emergency services. At the Ottawa Public Library, there is a drive-thru book return. The Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery unveiled a 2006 exhibit that let motorists view art via a drive-thru window. On North Carolina’s Outer Banks you can pull up to buy your beer at the “Brew-Thru.”
This proliferation of drive-thrus has led to a wave of automobile wrongdoing. Think of a crime. In the amount of time it took you to conjure up a mental picture of the act, someone somewhere has probably already committed it at a drive-thru. Doubt me. Take the Drive-Thru Quiz.
Ask yourself. Which of the following acts did not occur at a drive-thru in the past 30 days?
a) A naked couple arrested for ordering combos at an Illinois McDonalds.
b) A Californian man accused of robbing three drive-thrus (Sonic, Taco Bell and In-N-Out Burger) in the span of two hours.
c) A Tennessee man accused of threatening to blow up a drive-thru with a bomb.
d) Two Toronto men accused of stealing debit machines through the windows of Tim Horton’s drive-thrus.
The answer, of course, is that all these incidents occurred. Remember, these were the ones that were reported. In the last 30 days, there must be thousands of less egregious stunts pulled that never make the papers.
What is it about the drive-thru that triggers the Mr. Hyde in people? Perhaps it’s the time-crunch element. The drive-thru was created, after all, so that busy North Americans could be relieved of the troublesome burden of dragging their lazy butts from their cars for 20 feet. The first clue is in the spelling. It’s called the “drive-thru” not the “drive-through” – we’re in too much of a hurry to add those three extra letters.
Personally, I think that putting the words “drive-thru” before anything makes it a bit of a guilty pleasure. Try it. “Knitting” sounds boring but “drive-thru knitting” sounds a bit naughty.
It may be that the frustrating nature of the drive-thru can leave even the most rational person on the verge of performing a misdeed. You drive up, already gripped by shame because you are about to commit fast food in the first degree, yet you are at least optimistic that you’ll save time by “driving through.” Then it starts. The people in front of you have trouble with their orders. They stop too far from the pay window and then go through the awkward ballet of banging car doors and rifling for change.
When it’s your turn to place an order the person on the other end of the line is unintelligible.
“Hull weedcan dew muffle dose. Sprint and spray Mordor?’
“Hello, Welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order?”
When you talk the problem is reversed.
“I’d like a number three combo with Coke Zero.”
“Thank you. That’s four Filet-O-Fish and two apple pies. Please drive to the first window.”
“Drive through to the next window please.”
By the time you do get your food, it’s decision time. Do you strip naked? Arm yourself? Or do you just pay your money, take your food and drive off into the sunset? Thankfully, most of us choose the last option.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy