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road sage

In future centuries, when our descendants zip around in flying Pontiac Firebirds powered by biodegradable waste, archaeologists will ponder many riddles. Tops among these will be the mysterious ruined 21st-century-era restaurant-like structures encircled by single lanes guarded by talking menus.

Why? What? How? These scientists will wonder. Were these places designed as prisons or were they simply unholy temples where Satan was worshipped?

One thing is certain: they will trace the first tug on the string of our collective unravelling back to 1947 when Sheldon "Red" Chaney (of Springfield, Mo.) replaced the carhop service at his Red's Giant Hamburg with a drive-thru window.

Regular Road Sage readers know that I have more than a passing familiarity with drive-thrus or, as I like to call them, "hellmouths."

My fascination was once again piqued a few weeks ago when I heard that a 54-year-old woman in Barrie, Ont., had been accused of reversing her car into another automobile at a Tim Hortons drive-thru. The QMI News Agency reported that she was clearing snow off her car in the drive-thru lane and grew angry after the motorist behind her accused her of holding up the line.

"The woman threatened to drive into his car. … She allegedly got into her car and backed into the man's car before pulling ahead and asking him, 'How'd you like that? Want some more?' The woman then reversed again and damaged both cars."

The report said she was charged with uttering threats to cause damage, dangerous driving and mischief.

This was not the first time a motorist has lost it at a drive-thru. If you have a little time to spare, visit's "drive-thru rage" page where you can spend hours reading stories with headlines such as:

  • Ohio Man Crashes Truck Into Taco Bell After His Drive-Thru Order Is Short One 99-Cent Taco
  • Cops Hunt Man Who Firebombed Taco Bell Because His Chalupas Had Too Little Meat
  • Hash Browns Rage! Teacher Arrested For Pelting McDonald’s Worker With Food At Drive-Thru Window
  • And my favourite: McGriddle Attacker Still At Large.

I've always wondered what it is about drive-thrus that pushes us to the breaking point?

In Canada, there are two ways they can trigger violence. First is the anger you feel when two lanes have been reduced to one because the Timmie's drive-thru line is blocking traffic. It's rush hour and every Canadian who is too lazy to make a cup of coffee at home sits in his car waiting to get his double-double. This is irritating, but a little profanity and suggestions about where he can stick his crullers will ease the pain.

The real trouble starts when you decide to drive-thru. Prior to entering the drive-thru artery (where people buy food that clogs their arteries), you have an internal struggle. You really should go to the nearby market and buy a banana and yogurt. It would be cheaper and better for you, but – you're in a hurry and you don't want to leave your car or have more then 10 seconds of interaction with another human being – so the drive-thru it is.

Odds are, there is a lineup. So you're stuck waiting for food you didn't really want to begin with. You look out your widow and notice the small depressing cedar bushes that invariably line all drive-thrus. They look immune to growth and many of their branches are burned brown (you assume by car exhaust). The sky above the drive-thru always has a toxic hue to it and something industrial is always nearby.

As you get closer to being able to order, you will see an advertisement for whatever freak-show food of the month is going on. Baconator. Whiplash Whopper. Big Crunch. It's an abomination designed, maybe for you to order, but primarily to make you feel better about what you're going to order anyway, because at least you're not having the Baconator, you're having the double cheeseburger – you're on a health kick.

There are many cars ahead of you and many of those are minivans. They have kids in them. Why, you wonder, are they feeding their kids this crap? Why do I feed mine this crap?" The line barely moves. Then, when it does, the guy in front is too busy texting and doesn't creep forward as space opens up.

He just texts away – and the open space sits there, unfilled, like the hole in your soul.

Meanwhile, you realize you're wasting your life stuck in this drive-thru waiting to buy food that is probably going to shorten your life and the life of the planet. Everything in this damaged world is designed to muck you up and destroy you. You're blowing it.

You're deep in a drive-thru induced existential crisis. What are we all doing here? Why doesn't anybody wake up?

Why did they have to call it a drive-thru; was "through" really too long? Oh, what a piece of work is a man!

And that's when you snap and drive your car into the guy in front of you. When the cops arrive, you're screaming "Yolo!" over and over as you hammer his 1994 VW Jetta with fists clutching plastic straws. Then your story gets reported in the tabloid press with a picture of a cop pinning you to your car with the headline, "Hold the Whopper!"

And the worst part is you didn't even get your cheeseburger.


Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy