I vividly remember when the Burger King came to Ridley Park. I don’t remember the year, but I it was somewhere around 6th or 7th grade, so that would put it about 1969? Not only did it come to our town, but they built the restaurant less than a quarter mile from my house. We were so excited! All we had to do was walk down the hill and down the pike (Chester Pike) and we were there.
These were the years when fast food franchises started popping up everywhere. I can’t remember if there was a McDonald’s in town. But there was a Gino’s where we would sometimes get a sack of hamburgers for supper. Wendy’s and Arby’s didn’t arrive till high school.
Now just because Burger King was a stone’s throw away doesn’t mean I went there very often. But it seemed like all the other kids on the block did. They always seemed to have money for fries or a coke. My parents only gave us money on allowance day. I might have gotten $1 a week or maybe every two weeks when my dad got paid. Even though a burger only cost about $.15 back then, I didn’t often blow an allowance on fast food. Come to think of it, I don’t think I was even allowed to go there by myself.
In retrospect, I’m amazed at how enthralled I was with fast food while growing up. It was new, convenient, exciting and delicious for young palettes. I ate plenty in college and as a young adult. Now, I hardly ever eat fast food. Chick-fil-A might be the exception, but even’t that’s getting old. Either that, or I am.
On the way home from the Orlando airport, I stopped at a McDonald’s on 436. (Yes, I know, two visits to McDonald’s in just a few months. Don’t worry; I worked it off.)
Not much of a line, not much of a wait. Order placed, money paid. One white car ahead of me at the pick-up window. Sweet. This won’t take long.
They get their drink and their bag, and they…just sit there. No movement. OK, maybe they are waiting for one more item. I’m in no hurry. How long could it be?
Much longer than I thought. Ten minutes later, with a line of at least a dozen cars behind me, no movement. Horns start beeping. People are getting out of their cars, looking to see what’s going on. One person gets out of his car and walks up to the car ahead of mine, looking in the window. Another guy demands his food from the payment window and roars off. I’m stuck in-between windows and can’t do that.
Now it’s been fifteen minutes, and still no movement. Won’t the car start? Have the people inside expired? Should we call 911? No one gets in or out of the cars, but suddenly, a blue car ahead of the motionless car, that I hadn’t seen before, guns it and squeals out into the road. The roadblocking white car keeps up, burning rubber out onto a busy 436.
So what was going on up there? Finishing up a phone call? Watching a video? An argument? Yelling at the kids? Simply oblivious to the world around them? Possibly all of the above. Just because they call it fast food doesn’t mean you’ll get out of there quickly.