Future shock

Technology is changing our lives in unexpected ways

David Matthews / June 05, 2018
David Matthews

Drive-thru snafus

For generations, getting food from a restaurant meant ordering from a menu and being served at a table.

Then in 1947, the fast-food drive-thru changed everything. People could deal with their hunger without even getting out of their car. It was a glorious convenience.

Fast forward 70 years and we can now have food delivered from anywhere to anywhere with a couple taps on a cell phone.

But for all the convenience that technology has brought us, it has also taken away some of our basic skill sets. Yes, if recent incidents across America are any indication, we have forgotten how to use a drive-thru.

Take the city of Okeechobee, Fla., where fast food isn’t fast enough, resulting in police being dispatched three times in recent months to deal with customers who have fallen asleep in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane.

While those drivers may have been impatient, at least they were in the correct drive-thru.

When the manager of a Spring Hill, Fla., bank had to rouse a sleeping driver in his bank’s drive-thru line, the driver woke up and ordered a burrito. It seems the driver had somehow mistaken the bank for a Taco Bell.

However, the ultimate in-drive-thru ineptitude was demonstrated by Lizabeth Ildefonso, who attempted to order a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich not from a bank drive-thru, or any drive-thru at all, but rather the security booth at a New York county jail.

Key to success

Technology is not only ruining our ability to use a drive-thru; it also has caused a serious decline in our shopping skills.

Power shopping was practically a sport in the 1980s when malls were the center of American life. But with the surge of online retailers in recent years, power shopping has given way to finger shopping.

A key instigator of this trend, Amazon.com, is ready to take laziness to the next level. With their new Amazon Key in-car delivery service, Amazon orders can now be delivered directly into the trunk of your car.

The service is available to Amazon Prime members with 2015 or newer GM or Volvo vehicles equipped with cloud-connected technologies like OnStar or Volvo On Call.

Amazon uses an “encrypted authentication process” to ensure that the right courier is delivering the right package to the right vehicle. After authorization, the car is unlocked remotely so that the courier can insert the package.

The courier can’t move on to their next delivery until they have scanned the package and confirmed delivery, which automatically locks the vehicle back up.

Of course, Amazon customers have some concerns about this new service, like how they’re supposed to get packages from their trunk into their home all by themselves.

Paid attention

Back in the day, driving a car was the ultimate form of freedom for teenagers. The wind in your hair on the open road with the sweet sounds of REO Speedwagon blasting from the tape deck was enthralling.

Thanks to technology, today’s teens drive with one hand on the wheel and both eyes on their phone. Our obsession with tech has gone so far that teens actually choose technology over personal safety.

Teens don’t deny it. A recent survey published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention found that more than half of U.S. teens admit to texting while driving.

They’re also well aware of the dangers. A recent AAA poll revealed that 94% of teens acknowledge that texting while driving is dangerous.   

If self-preservation isn’t enough motivation for a teen to put down their phone while driving, what is?


That’s what researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found when they surveyed 16- and 17-year-old drivers who admitted to texting behind the wheel.

The teens were asked to consider factors that would discourage them from texting while driving, and the most popular answer was financial incentives.

For example, the teens said they would be willing to consider the safety of themselves and others if there was a weekly cash reward involved, or even discounts on their auto insurance.

After all, that’s more money for finger shopping and bank burritos.

About the Author

Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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