You’re on the road, and you don’t really have time to stop anywhere. You want a quick, drive-thru coffee. You’re coming up to an intersection. On your right, you see a Burger King. On your left, you see a McDonalds… which one do you go to?

I went to both yesterday, just to see… I turned into Burger King excited to “have it my way”. I pull up to the speaker:

“What can I get you?”

“Coffee, please.”

“$1.49, pull up to the window.”

“A large coffee.”

“$1.70, pull up to the window.”

I felt like I had to shout into the speaker due to its poor sound quality. I pulled forward (there was only one window), and she handed me my coffee. A cup of coffee with a bag full of stuff (4 creams, 2 regular sugars, 2 Splenda, 2 Equal, and a stirrer in a wrapper, but no napkins to wipe up the coffee I would invariably spill, and stain, on my black dress pants).

I proceeded to pull forward to make my coffee “my way”, which is with two creams only. I struggled to get the wrapper off the stirrer. Now I feel guilty that I have to throw out all the rest of this stuff that’s perfectly good… but wait. Where do I throw it out? There’s no trash can! Those extra creamers may have to stay in my car all day in the heat.

Across the street at McDonald’s, I pulled up to the speaker and was greeted with “Good morning sir, welcome to McDonald’s. How are you today?”

“I’m fine, how are you?” (it was an actual conversation)

“Fine, thank you. How may I help you?”

“I’d like a coffee please.”

“What size?


“Would you like any creams or sugar in that?”

“I’d like two creams, please.”

“Okay, that’s one large coffee with two creams. Would you like to add two hot apple pies for only a dollar?”

“No, thank you.”

“Please drive up to the first window.”

There were three windows, one of which wasn’t being used. As I pulled up to the first window, the car ahead of me was pulling away. I was able to immediately do my transaction. I was greeted with a smile and eye contact. By the time I’d finished paying, the second window was free for me. (It’s by design that there is a car and a half’s length between the two windows).

The second window handed me my coffee, just the way I like it. The two creams were already in it, and it was stirred! I had no other “stuff” to handle and waste. I like the lid off, so I pulled forward to deposit it into the trash can built for drive-thrus, and I threw away all the Burger King stuff!

In today’s economy, as we scrutinize every penny we spend, we demand an experience, and not to be treated as a transaction. All things being equal, the coffees were pretty much the same, but now my loyalty lies with McDonalds (if I don’t have time for a Starbucks!)