In the summer of 2021, hot off the deepest trough of the pandemic, the first Taco Bell Defy store was unveiled. They called it “Defy” because it will “defy norms and define the future.” It is a 3,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant in a suburb of Minneapolis with four drive-thru lanes. Three of those lanes will be dedicated to mobile or delivery order pickups. That means you’ll need to pick the correct lane for your indecision.
Digital check-in screens will allow mobile order customers to scan their orders via a QR code, then pull forward where their food will be delivered by a “contactless proprietary lift system.” That means your nacho fries will descend to your car window via a transparent dumbwaiter. Two-way audio and video will allow customers to stay in touch with taco providers in real time.
Everything from Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken to Portland’s Human Bean Coffee are building drive throughs. A.I. companies are dashing to provide a virtual workface to keep the lanes moving. One company uses cameras to track cars, which adds another layer of assurance that customers get their correct orders. An A.I.-powered menu board will suggest items based on the car itself. So if I am still driving my indestructible minivan, I will likely be served (or tormented, depending on how you see these things) with suggestions for kids’ meals, since it’s typically a family vehicle.
This trend is cooking so fast the Today Show created a segment about it:
Only 8 months ago our local CBS network thought it was news when a new Dunkin went up in Delaware that was drive through only:
No wonder my church “warden” noted in her fall fundraising letter that it is good to see how the church has just started to see some recovery in attendance after the pandemic. A lot of churches just died — no drive through option. Our meetings are still live-streamed, however, so we are probably a permanent hybrid store.
A lot of people still fear getting out of the house
If you watch the Today Show story, you will see the comments of drive-through interviewees that caused me to want to talk with you about this. I have quite a few clients who are still not out of their houses and would not do therapy if it were not virtual. Likewise, one woman in the segment talks about those times when she doesn’t want to get out of her car if she has to get out of the house. The world is unsafe and frightening.
Jesus followers in many eras have ignored the Spirit and truth in the Bible. Justifying slavery is a notable example. Not loving enemies is a regular example. Not “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” is expected. But we usually know we should not be so afraid. Even so, it seems most people, Christian and otherwise, are missing these themes:
“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. (Isaiah 8:12)
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)
The QSR Industry (as in quick service restaurant) says the customers want speed and convenience. That may be so. But I think they also want to be alone and are afraid of each other. If they can’t get stuff delivered, they want to be out their door and back in as soon as possible. Nobody wants to be afraid, but the the QSR industry is trying to pave over our need to face any fear. They stay in business by making sure all our needs are met without us having to do much. I think they can see the glint of profit in the fear flooding the country and are building sluice gates.
That was a rather dim view of humanity, right? I suppose I hang out with a lot of people who have a dim view of themselves and project it on humanity. So let’s be generous about what might cause Taco Bell to provide us with a four-lane drive through.
We had Covid
We had to stay inside and now we “need” to stay inside.
But wait, there is long covid. The fog has not lifted, literally, for many Covid sufferers. And the fog that descended on us all has not cleared from many hearts and minds. It is not really over.
We have Trump/Biden
We are in a bunker as if we lived in Gaza ourselves. I went to the store and witnessed a couple of guys screaming at each other in the parking lot. This is why we get groceries delivered. The disabled people of the government are spending billions to scream at each other. It is disruptive.
But wait, we have long Trump/Biden. Someone reminded me that if your are 17, you’ve been listening to the Trump craziness since you were 9 and just coming to reasonable cosnciousness. It never ends.
We had George Floyd
I have this terrible feeling that even though Derek Chauvin was apparently knifed in prison last week, most people have basically lost consciousness about George Floyd. He was killed about 3 1/2 years ago. There has been a lot of news cycling, disinformation and whitelash since then, plus the Capitol was attacked. Cherelle Parker’s new police chief had to get on the news and say, “We are not your enemy” last week. Even I have first-hand experiences to make that seem dubious.
I guess wait, we have long George Floyd. Last week Ron DeSantis lashed out at “liberal Republican” Nikki Haley for saying George Floyd’s death should have been “personal and painful” for Americans. He mocked her, saying,
She has accepted liberal narratives on a whole bunch of things. When the BLM riots happened, the George Floyd riots, I called out the National Guard. I was not going to let that happen in Florida. I stood by the police. She said that it needed to be personal and painful for each and every American.
Why would it need to be personal and painful for you? You had nothing to do with it. Did you tell that cop to do anything? Of course not. It’s just buying these ridiculous narratives. And so I think it’s clear what she’s trying to do.
Such people might make you want to not only stay in your house, but stay in bed.
I get scared when the QSR industry helps people stay safely scared, locked in their cars, barricaded in their apartments, developing their dissociation. But let’s be generous with each other. Don’t you, personally, have a lot to overcome this week? Aren’t you more distant from and more scared of people than before the pandemic? Aren’t you overly-aware of just how mad and disillusioned people are (or did you give up TikTok)? We all have a long way to go.
I am glad Jesus is going with me. Assuaged fear — leading to fear cast out by love, is the blessing of faith in Jesus. But when you are swimming up stream in a river of it you can get exhausted fast. Let’s be generous with each other. And let’s come out of the fog and pay attention to the hopeful admonitions in the three scriptures I quoted
- Check your dread. It is often based on lies.
- Hold God’s hand. It is almost Advent and it is being held out again.
- See how darkness cannot hide God’s love for us. It is never that dark and it is always that light.