Sunday, May 8, 2022

Take-Out and Delivery

Why is it better to get food delivered or for take-out than to simply go to a restaurant (or make a meal at home)?

We went to visit some friends and they suggested getting take-out from a nice Thai restaurant.  I volunteered to pay for the food and $100 later, we had more than enough food for four people delivered.  It was interesting, but food delivery is a big deal in the major cities, where pandemic paranoia is still in full swing - and perhaps rightly so.   I guess, coming from a rural area, there is more of the "oh fuck it, who cares anymore?" attitude about the whole thing.  And maybe that sums up the dichotomy about the pandemic between the city and country - folks in rural areas are not "in your face" all the time.  In the city, we see people wearing masks while driving their car, alone.   I am not sure that is effective mask usage.

But getting back to food delivery, I have personal experience with this both as a food delivery person and as a person who ordered food in the past. As I noted before, delivering food is at marginal business and mostly you end up just selling your car to the food company a little bit at a time. People don't realize how much it costs to operate a motor vehicle, so they get this paycheck from Domino's or wherever and think they're making money, not realizing that their car is worn out by the same amount if not more.

When we lived in Alexandria, we used to send out for food a lot, or get take out. Oftentimes we did this because we were simply being lazy and it was easier to make a phone call and watch television and wait for a pizza to arrive. But it was the ultimate in sloth, – one of the seven deadly sins. Sitting around watching television rather thant making your own food or even going out to a restaurant - it is the ultimate in cocooning.

Now, granted, there are times when sending out for food might make sense. You're working late on a project at work, and your boss offers to send out for pizza so everybody can keep working. Provided your boss pays for the pizza, this is not a bad deal. While we are rehabbing the condo, Mark went out to pick up Chinese food on two occasions so I could keep working on some projects I was doing, such as installing closet doors.

And of course, some restaurants are nothing but take-out. The local Chinese place we went to - which has very good (American) Chinese food by the way - does nothing but take-out. They have no tables or chairs or sit down seating.

Mark decided to go shopping the other day and dropped me off at Dishes of India to get some tak-out. I sat at the bar and had an excellent Bombay Sapphire Martini which was well shaken with chips of ice floating on the top. People just don't know how to make martinis anymore. They shake the shaker maybe once or twice and put mostly vodka in it, when it really should have some Gin and vermouth.

Anyway, while I was waiting, at least a dozen people came in to get their takeout orders. These were people would called ahead for their food or were doordash delivery people who are hired to pick up and deliver food for customers. Other people are picking up their own food.  It made me wonder - why bother going to the effort of driving to the restaurant to pick up the food - why not just take the wife and kids with you and eat at the restaurant?  It would save a lot of hassle.  And you wouldn't have to clean up or do dishes afterwards  It would also cost less, ironically.

And while some foods work well with takeout, others do not. For example, the Chinese restaurant nearby does nothing but take-out, and their food arrives scalding hot and is delicious. Our favorite Indian restaurant has wonderful food when you sit in the dining room. But when you take it home, it's a little cooler and the onion kulcha and garlic naan are a bit soggy. It's just not quite the same experience as sitting in the restaurant and getting the food as it comes out of the Tandoori Oven.

Other types of food are just ridiculous to order for takeout or delivery. I fail to understand why people order fast food for delivery. McDonald's french fries are delicious when they're hot right out of the fryer and cooked properly (half the time they are not). However, sitting in somebody's delivery car for 15-20 minutes they turn cold and soggy and are on appetizing. There are some things you just have to be eating right as their maid and french fries are one of them.  Not only that, when the cost of delivery exceeds the food cost, something isn't right.

The most ridiculous thing, I saw this morning. I had to saw 1/2 inch off most of the doors in the condominium - including the four closet doors - in order to clear the new carpeting. This was a tedious task. I have a new rechargeable circular saw and it works very well. In fact it's now my favorite tool. Anyway I have a cheap folding table set up on the patio and I'm cutting these doors and I see a delivery guy come in with a tiny bag from Dunkin' Donuts that contains two donuts. Somebody actually ordered two donuts for delivery. This blows my mind. Even weirder still, the person who ordered the donuts came out of their house a few minutes later and got in their car and drove off to work. How hard would it have been to just stop at the donut shop on the way to work?  It's across the street!

As I noted before, I am an advocate for making your own food, as it is much much cheaper than ordering take-out delivery or even eating at a restaurant. A simple egg sandwich can cost less than $1, but you can pay $4 for it if you want to wait in line for 10 minutes at McDonalds.

But if that seems like too much work, you could buy these pre-made egg sandwiches or other entrees at the grocery store in the frozen food section. Since we are camping out in the condominium, and the kitchen needs a good thorough cleaning, we could not make our own food right away. I cleaned and disinfected the microwave and we bought some of those pre-made egg sandwiches from Walmart which were four for four dollars. That's a buck apiece for breakfast and you don't have to send out for it. I mean, how hard is that? And yet others will go to the drive-through McDonald's to spend eight or ten dollars and wait 10 or 15 minutes to get their food. I just don't understand it.

Like anything else, it's a habit people fall into – and one that we fell into as well. We would have friends over and sit out by the pool and drink our wine and get a good buzz on. Pretty soon one of us would say, "Gee it's getting kind of late and we haven't anything to eat yet!"  Then somebody else would suggest a way we should send out for Chinese, Indian, Pizza or something/  And soon somebody would whip out their flip phone (back in the day) and call for delivery, or somebody with jump in their car and drive over to the Chinese takeout place.

Of course, it was kind of silly. You have to eat several times a day in order to keep your body running -  so the idea of not planning a meal is kind of stupid.  You do this three times a day for 80 years or so - yet so many people act shocked and surprised when they become hungry.  How did that happen?  I wasn't hungry two hours ago! 

So here we are sitting by the pool, drinking on an empty stomach and not even thinking about what we're going to have for dinner. And it's not like we're infants or stupid people.  Everybody sitting out by the pool had a college education and was fairly intelligent. And yet we let something as important as meal preparation fall by the wayside.

And sadly, we all do this - many if not most people do this - which is why restaurants and delivery and take-out are so popular these days.  We simply have lost the ability to run our own lives very effectively.   It is the ADHD generation - or is it Aspergers?  I forget.  Perhaps incipient dementia.

Takeout or delivery food should be a special treat once in awhile, not the standard modus operandi for daily living. Having two donuts delivered every morning is idiotic.

UPDATE:  A reader points out an error in my math.  With drinks and tips, the cost of eating-in at a restaurant will likely exceed that of take-out.

On another note, our friends report that they went out one night and left their teenage daughter at home.  She didn't like the food in the fridge, so she ordered "Five Guys" delivered.  "That was a $25 hamburger!" her father said - what with doordash costs.  And we all agreed, cold french fries are gross.

It just makes no financial sense whatsoever!