Chick-fil-A makes a nice sandwich, but what about that line?

by | Nov 27, 2022 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

A new Chick-fil-A recently went up a mile from my home. We knew it was coming — by the size of the parking lot.

In case you’ve been living under a bun lately, Chick-fil-A is a fast food chain that has been around since the 1940s, but feels as if it was just discovered in 2018. They sell a sandwich that is apparently made from the world’s most addictive chickens. Once you have one, you become a helpless junkie. You’ll go anywhere, endure anything, wait forever and a day on the longest lines, just to get another bite.

Thus, the huge parking lot. The folks who built this latest Chick-fil-A — on Telegraph Road in Southfield — at least had the foresight to know that cars would back up. And they do. Every night. Sometimes, despite the large parking lot, they still spill out into the traffic on Telegraph, causing unsuspecting drivers to assume there’s been a fender bender and everyone has stopped to gawk.

I’m gawking. But for another reason. For the life of me, I don’t understand why people would wait that long. In their cars. On such a line.

It’s just — and I say this with all due respect — a piece of chicken!

What are you waiting for?

Now, before the Chick-fil-A-Faithful lob the obvious response, “You’ve never tried one!” well, yes I have. In fact, once a year, when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, I find a Chick-fil-A with a line shorter than a football field. And I buy a sandwich. Just to make sure. And I eat it. And it’s fine. And I repeat what I said.

It’s just a piece of chicken!

Why are YOU STANDING IN THAT $%#@$ LINE?

Sorry. Was I yelling?

To be honest, for me, this is not just about chicken. I don’t get the whole line mentality. I don’t understand the backups at a Starbucks, when there are so many places to get a cup of coffee. I don’t understand why people give a day of their lives on line for a new iPhone. Who do you have to text that badly?

I definitely don’t understand the lines for beer at a sporting event or a concert, or the snaking lines for popcorn at a movie. If the point of going to those places is to witness something live, you’re missing it.

”How was the game?”

”Not sure. Didn’t see the third quarter.”

“Bad seats?”

“Nacho line.”

What’s even funnier is that we, as Americans, generally have the attention span of a caffeinated mosquito. If a page doesn’t load in less than a second, we click away. If the car in front of us isn’t doing 70 mph, we zoom around it. We want everything right now, right away, right this second.

Except … A PIECE OF CHICKEN!

Was I yelling again?

Time is on my side, yes it is

Please don’t misunderstand. I know that Chick-fil-A closes on Sundays, and it committed early to raising its chickens without antibiotics.

But I’m pretty sure the lack of antibiotics isn’t the reason for 134 people in line when I pass by. So what is it? Is the sandwich really so delicious, that it’s worth all that time lost? Is the coffee at Starbucks so superior that it’s worth sitting in a car line longer than a ferry crossing?

Or do we do it because everyone else is doing it? Because if all those people ahead of us think it’s worthwhile, then it must be worthwhile? I honestly can’t think of one thing I’d wait in line for that long, unless it’s 1. the Beatles getting back together, or 2. heaven.

But I confess, in the end, this is about envy. My envy. I wish I had the time to cheerfully stand at the back of a line while way off in the distance, I see someone get their sandwich, ask a question, check the bag, ask another question, get some napkins, ask another question, find ketchup, put their wallet away, move to the right, and then — wait for it! — someone else places their order.

Who has that much time? Who doesn’t have to be somewhere in the next, oh, say, five hours? Am I missing something? Is there a leisure reservoir that everyone is drinking from but me?

Or maybe — and I hadn’t considered this until now — some of us just like the lines? Maybe we like the community feeling of standing patiently behind one another? Maybe it’s like the Army. Or a football team. There’s a pride in numbers. Pride in belonging. Pride in being part of something that’s really. …

That’s really. …

I’m sorry. That’s really dumb.

Stop the madness. It’s just a piece if chicken. It can’t be the chicken, right?

Maybe it’s the pickles.

Contact Mitch Albom: malbom@freepress.com. Check out the latest updates with his charities, books and events at MitchAlbom.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.

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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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