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Shop Without Ever Leaving Your Car

Rhode Island may be the smallest sized state in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of accomplishments. Not only does our little state have the longest name (The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations), but it was the first place in the US where polo was played, is home to the world’s largest bug, has the oldest village in New England (Pawtuxet Village), hosted the first open gulf tournament, and apparently never ratified the 18th Amendment…which, in case you’re wondering, was prohibition (I guess we Rhode Islanders love our booze a little too much).

Now it seems we have one more “accomplishment” to add to our name: Rhode Island has become the first state in all of New England to offer a convenience store drive-thru. Yep, you heard right. Cumberland Farms, your favorite gas station and convenience store, has decided to start offering drive-thrus to make our lives easier. The first one is being tested down in Kingston, Rhode Island, and the chain plans to add more by the summer.

Cumberland Farms_drivethru.jpgDon’t they look so happy?


So the next time you need to pick up a drink and a roll of toilet paper on the way home, you shouldn’t worry — you can order them both right at the window, along with any of the store’s other 3,000 products!

“We’re not just in the convenience store business, we’re in the business of providing for the on-the-go customer,” said Ari Haseotes, president of the Framingham company.

That’s right — thanks to people like Ari Haseotes, us on-the-go Americans never have to get out of the car again! And it’s a good thing too, because time is money, and the less time you waste doing mundane tasks like walking around a store, the more money in your pocket. Right?


I just have to ask — how lazy can we get?? Seriously. Last I checked, convenience stores are pretty small. And I’m guessing they only take about 10 to 15 minutes to walk around, tops….and that’s if you walk really, really slow. Most times, you can glance around, identify the right aisle, grab what you need and get out of there in less than 5 minutes. Do we really need the extra few seconds that not having to leave our car will give us?

And even more importantly — do we really need another reason to sit? It seems to me like Americans are sitting pretty well. We sit in our cars to drive to work, we sit at our desk, we sit on the way home (with quick stops, of course, at McDonald’s drive-thru for dinner and Cumbys for a few household items…all the while still sitting) and then we sit on the couch. All. Night. Long. At the rate we’re going, we’ll never have to stand again!

As lovely as that may sound (standing is hard work, I know), our never-ending quest to make things more convenient isn’t exactly doing our health any good. We all know the stats: rates of obesity have increased dramatically over the last 20 years, roughly 30% of the population is obese (source), and this generation of children is the first that may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents (source). Not only is America’s weight problem threatening our lives, but it’s expensive too! Direct medical costs from obesity are in the billions of dollars.

So why, then, do we continue to shape the environment in ways that make it easier and easier for us to be unhealthy? And why are we letting our need for fast solutions and a company’s need for greater profits dictate the type of environment we live in? At some point, America needs a wake-up call. Because this Cumberland Farms idea isn’t just a drive-thru, and it’s not just a new and novel concept to make our lives easier. It represents another step in the wrong direction. A step away from encouraging people to get up and get moving. To walk for transportation, to slow down and enjoy life a little. And it represents a sad trend — where the fastest solution will always be the most profitable.

I’m sorry if you think the ability to order a few snacks and some toothpaste through a window without leaving your warm car on a cold winter day is pretty cool. I honestly find the whole thing a bit ridiculous. And it makes me wonder  — where this will ever stop?

I’ve said my piece, now let’s hear yours! Is this drive-thru the epitome of our laziness? Or do you totally disagree, and think it’s the greatest thing since, well the invention of drive-thrus!

32 Responses to Shop Without Ever Leaving Your Car

  1. I used to live near a drive through liquor store. Seriously. It’s pretty ridiculous.
    Lee´s last post ..Dinner Guests

  2. I think that’s terrible! After switching from a job where I was always on my feet to a job where I’m at my desk for the vast majority of my 8 hour workday, I’m looking for *more* ways to move and not lag around, not less!
    Faith @ lovelyascharged´s last post ..Spicy Quinoa Stew

  3. As a mother of a 4 year old, I will say there have been many times that I have wanted the convenience of not having to leave my car. To some, it may seem to just make us lazier, but for a single parent, that is a convenience I’d love to have. Especially when its pouring down rain, freezing cold, or when my daughter is sick and I just need to get her some medicine or ginger ale to make her better. Maybe it is a little over the top to have any and all products in the store available through the drive thru, and probably isn’t good for the obesity rate of our country. However, if there were one near me, I’d be jumping for joy. I’m a healthy, physically fit adult, and I’m not lazy, so I wouldn’t misuse this like some Americans might. I’m not arguing your point that it is a bit much, just wanted to share another perspective.

    • Hi Ruth — thank you for sharing your perspective. I’ll admit that sometimes as a single woman with no kids, that perspective is not one that I always consider right away…so thanks for weighing in. You do bring up a good point, and I have to agree that there are many for whom this drive-thru would be a huge blessing….people like yourself, individuals with disabilities or that just have a hard time walking around, etc. So I understand that it’s not always a laziness factor.

      I guess my concern is more on a societal level, and with the overall direction this country is going in. It’s one thing to pick up medicine at a drive-thru (I know many pharmacies already offer this), but another altogether to be able to do all your shopping. And Cumberland Farms doesn’t really have the healthiest food options available (it’s not like a full service grocery store), so encouraging more people to buy food there because it’s so convenient is not the best thing for the health of our country. I understand there can be value in things like this, I’m just concerned about yet another thing that encourages us (us meaning society) not to walk around. If it were only used out of necessity, that’s one thing. But unfortunately I don’t think that will be the case for many.

      It’s a tough balance, I think…

  4. I mean it is a little crazy to think about how lazy we have gotten. Buttttt I think it will be super convenient with an injury or in the freezing cold!

    • Of course. I definitely agree with that and I can’t say that I would never go through one if I was injured or something and really didn’t want to get out of my car. That being said, I still think this is the last thing our society as a whole needs. Unfortunately walking/moving isn’t a top priority in our culture.

  5. this is hilarious! it’s like wall-e is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9s7afoYI-M (from 1:07)

    • You know I’ve never actually seen Wall-E! But that clip is hilarious, in a scary, “ohmigosh that’s so true” kind of way.

  6. Seriously? And from Cumberland Farms? I always liked them when I lived in NY! I’m hoping this concept won’t catch on, because unfortunately, we already live in a society that has been designed by very smart people to decrease the amount of effort that people need to put into daily tasks. They’ve increased efficiency in this fast-paced society, but the cost to our health must be considered. And how about the satisfaction of a slower-paced society?? (Ok, that one is my personal preference 😉 )

    On another note, that picture of the smiling drive-thru people is too funny. Customer: “I just love to buy all my necessities without leaving the comfort of my car!” CF employee: “Wait, let me just position the bag so that our logo is highly visible … there!”

    • haha! Love it! I should have done a caption contest for that picture. 😉

      And I’m with you — I think there’s a huge amount of satisfaction in a slower-paced society. I would love it if that were possible (until, of course, I’m waiting for something and start getting annoyed things are taking so long. haha)

  7. This reminds me of of when the CVS near me opened their drive-up window for their pharmacy. It seemed crazy to me, so I drove through. It took at least five minutes for someone to come to the window, then they had to get my prescription. The employee returned for my money, walked to the far register, returned with my change. The whole process was ridiculous…and anything but convenient!

    I think it’s important to note that Cumby’s isn’t selling too many salads or apples. The people choosing the drive-up option at a convenience store are the same population that our nation’s “movement” initiatives are targeting. I wish society could come to together on this. Businesses need to do their part to better our country’s overall health.
    Becky´s last post ..Running Rewind

    • Two very good points! I wonder how this will actually work in reality. I’m not sure it would actually be any faster….especially if you order a lot of stuff! And drive-thru aren’t always the clearest forms of communication. How many people have gotten food orders messed up when going through one? Can you imagine if you had an entire list of things to get??

      Second point is great as well. Unfortunately in our society, prevention just isn’t profitable.

  8. This post is fabulous! This behavior is net going to stop and its so frustrating. Honestly americans are so lazy its sickening and maddening. Not to mention that with 3000 products it will probably actually take longer in a drive thru then if you actually just went into the store. Arg! Seriously America this is getting ridiculous!
    Lizzy´s last post ..Races- Long Run and Weekly Workout Recap

  9. I think this brings up some interesting points about the environment. Essentially, we could survive without ever leaving our couches or cars. There are tons of grocery stores that deliver, on-line shopping eliminates the mall, and now this. Not to mention that this makes stopping for a 24oz soda and king size candy bar even easier. Understandably, we are a nation on the go. We dont have the attitudes of the French or Italian about food and enjoyment of life. But that doesn’t mean we cant take 5 minutes to get out of our cars.

    I also think its interesting considering that a number of cities in California are exploring banning drive-thrus in fast food chains. Apparently the East coast is lagging behind.

    • It’s actually really hard to ban them! Businesses are protected so you technically can’t “discriminate” against a certain type (like fast food places). That being said, I know some places have gotten around that by banning all drive-thrus. There’s a town in RI that did it for traffic reasons and town character (I believe). It’s much harder to ban them for health reasons.

      I hope that CA does have success doing this though, because if they can find a health justification to ban them, it could set a nice precedent for the rest of the country. We’re always following in California’s footsteps, it seems…

  10. As lazy as I think this is, unfortunately I think it’s going to take off and be the norm in the future.

    Side note – Things like this always remind me of the Disney movie Wall-E when everyone is just sitting in chairs zipping around and everything is standardized. Scary.
    Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle´s last post ..Ten Signs of a Bad Restaurant

  11. I never thought about what Ruth said about having babies. In that case, I guess convenience stores with a drive thru would be better. What bothers me about drive-thrus is that it perpetuates the drive everywhere culture in the U.S. Not only is this a contributor to obesity, but it is obviously terrible for the environment. When I visit friends who live in the suburbs, I’ve come to realize they are so used to driving everywhere that they will drive places that are less than a 10 minute walk. So unnecessary!
    Liz´s last post ..Real Life Strength Training

    • It’s pretty ridiculous. Sad part is, that becomes the norm. If you live in the city or in a down-town, it’s so easy to walk everywhere. But once things get more spread out, we have more and more reasons to never get out of our cars.

  12. Okay so at first reading this I was disappointed once again by our society’s acceptance of laziness. I felt much the same way you expressed in your post. But then I thought about how I really needed to pick up stamps and run by the grocery store for cheese yesterday, but couldn’t because I had Julia (an 18 month old) with me and I didn’t have anything to cover her head with and it had just started to sleet. There was no way I was getting her out in that weather to have to carry her across a parking lot. It would’ve been nice if I could’ve just driven up to a window and had them bring me whatever I needed. So I see positives for it, but definitely the negatives outweigh the positives in my mind. Having one more excuse to sit and not move is not what Americans need!
    Rach´s last post ..Dialect Vlog

    • Definitely a valid point. And I’m sure my perspective would be different if I had kids with me. Sometimes I think it’s really hard to weigh the benefits of something that we might appreciate personally, with the overall benefits (or lack thereof!) to our society as a whole…

  13. hmmm, when i’m being really honest…there are times that i avoid picking up some essentials because the idea of wandering aimlessly around the store trying to find the single item i need just sounds like too much. in fact, i’ve been known to forgo washing my hair for almost a week because i’m out of shampoo and don’t want to stop to buy some. yea, i can be lazy. but i also love to exercise so…its not really an issue for me.

    i can totally see that for the sedentary part of our culture, any time they can get up and do some walking is great and this is just an other example of connivence superseding health.
    the dawn´s last post ..one year old

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with you! A drive through convenience store seems totally ridiculous to me. What strikes me even more on a regular basis is how technology is making us lazy. Now you can order anything online, so you can literally shop without even walking to your car. Don’t get me wrong – I love my lap top and my smart phone, and I can appreciate the convenience of certain things ,but I think we have taken things way too far as a society. There is a fine line between efficiency and laziness and we’ve definitely crossed it.
    When I want to buy something, I like to go to a store, walk around, interact with other human beings, have an excuse to leave the comfort of my house. I could spend more time in my car, but I really enjoy walking to coffee shops and walking to the subway everyday. It amazes me how many people say, “oh my gosh, you walk a mile here?” as if I’m insane. I think they are the insane ones! If we don’t make an effort to move all day, how can we surprised when 30% of us are obese??

    • I’ll admit that I enjoy the convenience of online shopping far too often. But you’re right — walking is not insane!! And with more and more studies coming out that show the dangers to our health from sitting all day (even IF you’re a runner/avid exerciser), I really think we need to be making an effort to move as much as possible.

  15. I think that drive-thrus of any kind are the height of laziness but have a specific problem with fast food drive thrus. The choice to eat it is personal but arguably not the best idea. Now if you can’t even walk 30 seconds and stand in a line to get said fast food I think we have a HUGE problem screaming at us!! Don’t make it easier for people to get less healthy. In fact, let’s put every McDonalds at the top of 6 flights of stairs. If you want it that bad, come and get it!!!

  16. this is a great post! I think drive thrus are the epitome of lazy! Do I use them sometimes? um..yes, but I also run, a lot! I think the convenience store thing is a bit much!! get up and walk people!
    Heather´s last post ..Comment on WDW Marathon 2011 Recap part II by Megan

  17. Wow, this is pretty horrible. But I can’t say I’m surprised. In our culture, laziness sells. And all that gas station/ convenience store cares about is making a profit. I have no idea how the health of the world can get companies to see that health > money. And I’m not sure they ever will. Unless the government starts taxing companies like crazy who promote negative health behaviors. I wouldn’t be against that 😉

    That being said, Ruth makes an excellent point. There are times when the safer (and thus, healthier) option is to not get out of your car. So, I’ll just pretend everyone who uses drive-thrus has small children in the car…
    Jen´s last post ..When common sense doesn’t work

  18. I personally think drive thrus are annoying because I’d rather be up and moving and feeling like I’m accomplishing something rather than wait in line. Plus, don’t you have to wait for someone to go get the stuff you want? And you can’t price compare! I think it’s crazy and silly.

    This is also coming from the girl who wandered new grocery stores that opened because it was fun and I wanted to see what kind of stuff they have. I used to spend hours in Wegmans haha.
    Susan´s last post ..2011 Manhattan Half Race Report

  19. Man, I’m so glad the post turned around – for a second I thought you were excited about this ridiculousness 😉
    Um, get out of your car, you lazies. Better yet, walk to your nearest convenience store!!
    Elina (Healthy and Sane)´s last post ..Now Eat This! cookbook review and giveaway

  20. That’s pretty funny, I can’t imagine it. I LOVE getting out of my car and walking around during errands so I don’t get antsy. But then again, if it was snowing, this might win me over… :)
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)´s last post ..True Life- My Marathon Training Started Without Me

  21. at first glance I would side with your claim to this concept being an enabler to laziness… but on the other hand.. being a mom of two… it drives me crazy to get the both kids in the car and 5 minutes down the road and both kids have fallen asleep. All I really MUST get is milk and diapers, and yet I will be required to wake both children up and endure the fury of two sleepy, cranky, pissed off toddlers… not fun at all.. for anyone!

    thats my take on it!

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