Column: Life in the fast food laneBeverly Godfrey: Despite having seen many great movies, ones with good acting, sensitive writing and historical accuracy, one scene I recall frequently is that Joe Pesci drive-through scene from “Lethal Weapon 2.”
By: Beverly Godfrey, Duluth News Tribune
Despite having seen many great movies, ones with good acting, sensitive writing and historical accuracy, one scene I recall frequently is that Joe Pesci drive-through scene from “Lethal Weapon 2.”
It’s a short scene, about a minute, from a movie made in 1989. So why do I remember it? Maybe because it’s a great moment in a mediocre movie, a moment when a movie speaks the truth.
Pesci’s profane, dumb character gets the wrong food in a fast-food drive-through — in this case, a tuna fish sandwich — and goes on a tirade. You can find the scene on YouTube, but if you’re offended by cursing, don’t look it up on my recommendation.
It would be fair to say I eat a lot of fast food. And it would be accurate to say that something turns out to be wrong with the order about half the time.
The percentage of mistakes is probably so high for me because I’m one of those annoying special-order people. “No cheese” is a big stumbling block, an order that must be pretty rare, judging by how often my sandwich will have cheese on it anyway. And you can’t just scrape it off; it melts into everything.
More than taste, though, I’m thinking about the calories.
For example, a McDonald’s Deluxe Quarter Pounder has 540 calories, but you can trim 50 calories by leaving off the cheese, and another 50 if you lose the mayonnaise. Take the whipped cream off a milkshake to cut 70 calories. Get a fish sandwich plain, and it drops from 390 calories to 270.
The cheese on a salad is supposed to add about 50 calories. But portions can be irregular, and I have picked literally a cup of cheese off a salad, and that would be 520 calories just for the cheese.
I know so many busy parents who pick up dinner at a drive-through because they’re going to dance class or hockey practice or dozens of different meetings and events. And if they’re like me, although they feel guilty about it, they’ll find themselves there again soon.
On a recent evening, my family sat down to dinner together, and all the food came out of bags. We had been in two cars driving four kids to different locations. We met back at home, and didn’t even all have food from the same restaurant. But we did eat together at the table, and that’s a good thing.
There are some people who see nothing wrong with fast food, and some people who would never eat it. I live in an unfortunate middle ground where I don’t think it’s the best, but oftentimes, it’s the most stress-free way to manage a family of hungry people.
Like the product of a
behavior-modification experiment, I have found many rewards in the drive-through. I don’t have to shop for the food. There are no dishes to wash. Everyone orders what they want. They all eat it, and they’re not hungry again for a long time. These rewards frequently outweigh any guilt or worry I feel.
And when the order is wrong, I don’t get angry and curse out an unfortunate
minimum-wage, teenage worker. But I do enjoy thinking about Joe Pesci, my
Beverly Godfrey is a copy editor and columnist for the News Tribune. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.