Dash n' Dine

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by Bob (Ram) Muessig

     We’ve all heard the phrase, "dine n’ dash", which refers to having a meal at a restaurant and then skipping out without paying the bill. That, of course, is illegal, but there’s a variation on that phrase which isn’t and is becoming commonplace everywhere across this great nation...dash n’ dine. "What’s that?" you ask. Let’s find out.

     Dashboard dining, as it commonly known, is a practice which is quickly becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives. Here’s an example. Joe Commuter zips into the Taco Bell drive-through and sinks his teeth into a steak fajita wrapped in a floppy flour tortilla as he leaves the parking lot. Chewing vigorously, he accelerates to 40 mph and changes lanes. His car veers to the left, but the half-eaten fajita stays upright. This practice of eating on the run has become so commonplace that many fast-food chains are being forced to design their "specialties" to be, not only fast, but easy to eat while behind the wheel. Taco Bell folds their tortillas a special way to keep food and juices inside, and their technologists endeavor to make the tortillas more durable and taco shells less crumbly.

     KFC is offering a new pita sandwich, which has a bottom like a pocket to catch chicken, dressing, cheese, or anything else that might otherwise accidentally fall into a lap. Others are making their breakfast sandwiches more moist and crumble-proof. Still others are designing their omelettes and hamburgers in the shape of a hot dog, making them easier to hold and eat using just one hand.

     Law enforcement officials, after investigating over 37,000 fatal accidents in 1995, cited inattentive drivers as a factor in nearly 6% of these accidents says NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Big surprise. Driving is a full-time job. (Now where have we heard that before?) One marketing research company official states "You think fat and cholesterol are the most dangerous things about fast food? The most dangerous thing is eating in your car!"

     A business executive, hurrying between meetings, took her eyes off the road to take a bite of her McDonald’s hamburger and went right through a red light. "It was really an eye-opener on how dangerous it is." she said. Now, she rarely eats and drives at the same time anymore.

     Can you steer, eat, and shift gears at the same time? "Safety might sometimes be compromised, but yeah, I can do it." another person states.

     All safety issues aside, this wave of dashboard dining may, quite likely, be unstoppable. Appliances like mini-microwaves, built-in trash compactors, and coolers are now being designed for autos, trucks, and utility vehicles. Trays that fold down like those in passenger aircraft are on the drawing boards.

     Do I ever eat "on the fly"? Guiltily I confess, yes I do, but with some trepidation. My wife and I pull off the road, pick up our fast food, and get back on the highway, THEN the food is handed to me so that I don’t have to take my eyes off the road. She holds the food or drinks while I eat, and after I’m finished, she eats. If she’s driving, the roles are switched. Same thing applies to using that cell phone. If I’m driving, she talks, When she drives, I talk. Safer that way.

     Like I’ve said so many times...driving is a full-time job. Let’s try to keep the distractions to a minimum. Drive safe, and I’ll see ya’ down the road.

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