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As drive-ins are to obesity

A glimpse into the American future       Send a link to a friend

By Mike Fak

[MARCH 27, 2004]  It really shouldn't have been surprising when the U.S. surgeon general reported that obesity was closing in on lung cancer as the No. 1 cause of premature death in the United States.

We as a nation are not in shape anymore. I include myself in the group that needs to shed pounds to be considered just pudgy. The reason we are becoming heavier and heavier without growing taller and taller (which would help) is simple, according to the S.G.'s office: "Overweight and obesity come from an imbalance involving excessive calorie consumption and/or inadequate physical activity." I hope we didn't spend a great deal of taxpayer money determining that conclusion.

An interesting notation in the surgeon general's report states that excess poundage in adults has tripled in the last 25 years. I'm not sure how they know that. Did we have a national weigh-in that I missed going to? Maybe a census taker with a scale under his arm came to the door when I was away. I will accept their findings, however, because if I don't, then there is no reason for this article.

I believe America has become overweight because of the invention of the drive-through.

To a small degree, drive-throughs have been around since there has been something available to drive and something available to go through. The drive-through really took off and came into its own when the Sierra Vista, Ariz., McDonald's told people they could stay in their car and get a burger, back in 1975. Please note that is just about 25 years ago.

As the years have gone by, more and more businesses have gone to throwing food at passing motorists, and throughout the years we have become heavier and heavier as a nation. Therefore I conclude the drive-through is the root cause of America's weight problems. No, my conclusion isn't scientific, but it didn't cost a million dollars in taxpayer money either.

As a nation we seem to do everything in excess, and not getting out of our car to conduct day-to-day business is a prime example. We use drive-throughs for food, banking and pharmacological necessities as well as dry cleaning, airline and train tickets, for auto parts as well as groceries and computer repairs. Cell phone businesses tout drive-throughs, and in some cities hardware stores and lumber yards advertise you don't have to leave your vehicle. I can't picture handing 4-by-8 sheets of drywall through the window into your car, but it must work because there are several lumber yards up in Chicago saying they have drive-throughs.

In California, that very strange state, there are now drive-through wakes at some funeral homes. During the day, old Uncle Elmo is wheeled up to the window so mourners can drive by, pay their respects and sign a guest book without ever having to leave the confines of their Chevrolet.


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With such a bizarre determination of what business can now be enacted without getting out from behind one's steering wheel, the possibilities seem endless. Here are a few of my predictions of what we will soon see in drive-throughs:

Waste disposal: In order to keep costs down, motorists will be able to drive up to the garbage dump and hand their refuse to a sanitation employee. The costs of trucks and neighborhood pickup of junk will be gone forever. Companies making really good garbage bags that really won't break open will make a fortune, of course.

Drive-through legal system: Judges will be seated at window one to adjudicate the defendants and listen to their plea. Fines can be paid at window two, and a jury can be at window three in the event one is needed. In the event an individual is found guilty, they can then drive over to the appropriate jail or prison. I suppose short sentences can be served -- where else? -- in their cars.

Drive-through veterinary service: Motorists can just pull up to the window, hold out their pet and have a deft vet either spay, neuter or give a worm shot. The outside lane can be used as well, but only kittens and puppies, of course, will fit into the pneumatic tubes.

Day-care centers: Any parent who has ever had a child in day care knows how long it can take to grab your children, find their coats and mittens, and pull them out the door as they have to say something to every other kid who spends the day with them. Soon, we will be able to just pass our kids through the window and grab them back again after work. In the event we are held up at work, our children can be left in a night depository box until we get there.

Medical groups: Most of the time we go to see the doctor because we just have the flu. So why should we spend two hours waiting to see a doctor who just says stick out your tongue and say "ahh"? Americans are experts at making facial gestures in cars, so driving up and sticking one's tongue out while a doctor goes "uh-uh" and charges you a Ben Franklin at least makes the experience quick, if not cheap. There could be one of those arm-sleeve machines like at the Wally World. Got the flu or something else a bit more contagious? Just stick your arm in the sleeve while the doc punches up which serum to pop into your bloodstream. Again, quick and easy and no need to get out of the car.

Plastic surgeons: We have become a real do-it-yourself nation, and this can come in handy. Since we all have experience with the car wash wands, why can't we just pull into a booth and give ourselves a liposuction treatment. It can't be that much harder than reaching the roof on the SUV, plus it will help the next surgeon general's report state that for some reason America is getting thinner. I won't miss the next national weigh-in. Maybe I'll be thinner by then. 

[Mike Fak]

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