“I’m sorry, sir…did you say eight Filet-O-Fish?”
The McDonald’s drive-thru is where we find the answers to the most fundamental questions of human existence: “Who am I?” “What is the meaning of life?” “When is the McRib coming back?” “Do I even like the McRib?”
At first glance the McDonald’s drive-thru may seem routine, even boring. But at some point, we all face the reality that this may be the most important left turn we’ll ever make. Why? Because the entire experience, from placing our order to driving away, is a snapshot of the journey of life itself. As we make this drive-thru journey, it brings out our very identity. It reveals our character to the world, and even more importantly, to ourselves. It exposes what we’re made of and what our true priorities are.
And it’s a journey we all make. There is no constant more universal in human experience. Taxes? Maybe. Death? Yeah, probably, but Elon Musk might still come up with something for that. But the McDonald’s drive-thru? It’s what it means to be human. It’s a part of you. If you walk this earth, it is woven into the fabric of your life. So go ahead, pull around to the second window. It’s a window into your soul.
“Yes, ma’am. Eight Filet-O-Fish.”
“Sir, you ordered eight Filet-O-Fish.”
“We have six kids.”
“We have $.49 cheeseburgers.”
“It’s a Friday in Lent.”
“Sir, would you be interested in seeing our McCulture of Life Discount Menu?”
“Is that a thing?”
“No. $32.14. Pull around to the second window.”
Sigh. You just opened yourself up. You bared your soul. You declared to the whole world that you’re open to life, marginally destitute, and devoutly observant of Friday abstinence. You didn’t just order fast food. You made a statement. You stood on the mountaintop and shouted, “This is who I am!”
And for what? Enlightenment? Self-knowledge? Purpose in life?
No, for the Filet-O-Fish.
And it was worth it.
It’s time. You reach out and grab the paper bag. It’s big, and it’s heavy. Somehow you wrangle it through your car window. As you pull away, the smell hits, and it’s heavenly. It doesn’t smell like fish. It doesn’t smell like fries. It smells like… McDonald’s. It’s the same unbelievable aroma no matter what you get — whether it’s a Big Mac, a Sausage McMuffin, or two hundred Chicken McNuggets (#5 on the McCulture of Life Discount Menu).
Of the top five memories of your life, at least three probably involve the first bite of a Filet-O-Fish. The fish is perfect — flaky and light, but rich and full of flavor at the same time. Breading, top notch. Square shape, love it. Cheese. Wait what? Yes. Bun? Soft, golden, perfect. Manageable size for kids. Can it get better? Anyone who has studied mayonnaise-based condiments knows that it can get better. They don’t offer extra tartar sauce at McDonalds for a reason: because they don’t need to. Every Filet-O-Fish comes with the perfect amount, and it’s the best tartar sauce you’ve ever had. It’s probably made by monks.
McDonald’s just has it. Others try, but they can’t. There is just none better, period. It’s not flashy. It’s not splashy. It’s doesn’t cause a buzz, or a stir, or long lines and shootings. It’s just the ultimate classic.
It’s the best.