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McDonald's Big Mac. File/Gene J. Puskar/AP

If confession is good for the soul, then here goes. Even at my age, I eat more food in my car than I care to admit. That’s right, I unwrap a burger or biscuit and shovel those fries, while at times, steering with one knee.

Some of this is because it seems like I’m always on the way to somewhere, and I know where the nearest drive-thru is located.

I draw the line on eating a sub sandwich while behind the wheel, but all the other food fare is fair game. Burgers, tacos, apple pies, barbecue or chicken sandwiches — I’ve tackled ‘em all.

Since I’m baring my soul, here, I’ll also confess to ordering extra french fries on occasion, so that I can eat some while I’m on the way, making sure I still have some left when I get there.

The reason for conveying this fondness for fast-food? It’s necessary to establish my credentials because it is also my considered observation that the dining experience for fast-food is taking longer and longer and the order is often wrong.

Make it a combo

Some of the slow service is our own fault. We want more and more on the menu. There are so many options on the big board just outside your car window, one hardly knows which picture and pricing option to select. On top of that, there are often new products or limited-time offers that appear on that giant board, adding an extra layer of confusion.

Most of the time, I get the same thing. A No. 1 combo meal takes care of my dietary needs during most trips. But here’s where it also makes it difficult to get what I wanted. Since I don’t prefer to have tomato or cheese, I ask that it be left off the order. For some reason, that seems too difficult to process.

Lately, the odds appear to be about 60-40 that what I ordered will actually be in the bag.

How many of you take the order back? Most of us just keep moving down the road, shaking our heads in disgust, eating what we’re given.

I don’t do that anymore. I’ve determined that if the world is going to get better service at the drive-thru windows, we fast-food connoisseurs must unite — one quarter-pounder at a time.

Want fries with that?

I had the ultimate mix-up recently. Five minutes after receiving my order of a burger and fries, I discovered somewhere along Interstate 26 that I had been given three fish sandwiches. I turned around, went back to the location and asked to speak with the manager. She was genuinely sorry and corrected the order.

I don’t want to be that guy who looks through the bag at the window, unwrapping and inspecting every item. But we all have probably been victimized by some failure to communicate at the fast-food window.

So what’s the answer?

More of us have to take the time to let the manager know when the order’s not right.

There’s also a right and wrong way to do it. I don’t recommend circling the parking lot and tossing a biscuit at the cashier window. There’s a more polite and civil way to reveal your displeasure.

Sometimes, we get what we allow to keep happening. And this is true in many areas of our daily lives — not just when ordering fast-food.

Reach Warren at

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