We moved to Geelong just under a year ago. Geelong is a regional Australian city about an hour drive from Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city and the place we used to call home. Geelong happens to be home to an insane amount of businesses that offer the service and convenience of the ‘drive-thru’.
First thing you will notice is the drive-thru coffee joints. There are as many of them as there are roundabouts, with most serving a product that would compare to the surface of your average roundabout. It as if the drivers of this city run on caffeine in the same way their cars rely on petroleum. Some petrol station owner needs to disrupt the market and install a cold brew bowser.
At least a few cafés are starting to appear where you use your legs to walk into the building and then use them to stand and order your coffee. When I'm sitting in these places, I often see a look of novel delight on my fellow patrons. It's not long until they get nervous; you can tell they are worrying about their cars and how they’ll be coping without them. Their faces have the same look I have only ever seen on dog owners during a severe thunderstorm.
An enterprising local pub down here offers drive-thru chicken parmigiana, a delicacy that is about the finest of Australia’s culinary contributions. This beaten bird breast battered in breadcrumbs is served with a rich tomato sauce with grilled sliced ham and cheese riding atop. Traditionally it is served with chips (fries) and a salad and I am sure by now you can tell how much better this dish would taste crammed into a humid cardboard container. You’d be better off eating the cardboard after a parmi has sat in one of those saunas of sadness.
Still why go to the bother of putting on pants and sitting in a restaurant when some kitchenhand is willing to throw the most popular dish on the menu through your car window for the same price?!
It doesn't stop there. Drive-thru pet shops (for when you quickly need a goldfish), drive-thru bottle shops (for when the goldfish wants to swim in 100 proof vodka) and drive-thru ensuite bathrooms in caravan parks (for when your holiday turns tragic and the goldfish dies in your camper van, leaving you wanting somewhere private to flush the fish before consuming a fishbowl of vodka).
My favourite so far is the drive-thru ATMs. They belong to my bank and it stirs up fond memories whenever I use them. My parents used to frequent them when we were kids and living in the area while Dad worked for the bank. Not much has changed with the ATM setup since the late 80s and I feel like I am in an outtake from a scene in one of the Back to the Future movies.
At any moment Doc could show up and warn me that I have insufficient credit, and any invalid transaction will ruin the financial stability of future generations of my family. I imagine he would then offer me strategic financial advice (based off a web short course he recently undertook), recommending I make voluntary fortnight contributions to my superannuation.
Geelong is a city people often drive around, but seldom through. This is a shame, as it has so much going for it. My fear is that the city's potential is never realised. You can’t expect visitors to drive through the town when it has such a drive-thru mentality- unless they need a quick goldfish.