English Man Prevented from Taking Horse and Cart through KFC Drive-Thru

Fast food restaurants are very picky about who they'll let use the drive-thru these days.

Maybe it's because of the pandemic, or maybe corporate attorneys have clenched as atom-smashingly tight as they can, but they're very clear: You can't walk up or ride a bike through the drive-thru, because "someone might get hurt."

Not like the old days. My friends and I used to ride our bikes through fast food drive-thrus and order our cheeseburgers and Cokes with reckless abandon.

We didn't care. We were rebels. Badasses. The coolest 10-year-olds my neighborhood in suburban Muncie, Indiana had ever seen. My bike had a banana seat on it with a 4-inch sissy bar, so I was already pretty cool. And we would roll up on a drive-thru, baseball cards rumbling in our spokes, sleeves rolled up, toothpicks in our mouths.

(Not really. My mom said I couldn't ride a bike with a toothpick in my mouth, in case I fell off.)

I remember one summer afternoon, my friend, Doug, and I cruised up to the local Burger Chef drive-thru and grunted our order, coolness crackling through the speaker.

"Can we have two cheeseburgers and two Cokes, please?"

"Sure, that will be [some unbelievably small number kids today would never believe]."

"Oh, and is it okay that we're on our bikes?" I demanded.

"Sure, whatever," said the teenage girl working at the window, no doubt impressed with our bad boy attitudes. I could tell she was digging me by the way she gingerly held the $2 I had stuffed in my tube sock. And my 4-inch sissy bar sealed the deal.

You just can't be that cool these days. I've heard of people being turned away from drive-thrus because they were on a bicycle or even on foot.

The cars-only adherents are no doubt the same people who don't want kids walking through their yard, because "they might trip and get hurt, and I don't want to get sued."

Who are these clumsy children that they a) can't walk on grass without falling flat on their faces, and b) are so top-heavy that a simple tumble in the grass will cause horrendous bodily damage?  More importantly, who are these people with visions of kids-disguised-as-lawsuits parading in and out of their yards? No one has ever been injured by tripping on someone's lawn, so get over yourselves. Just admit you're old and cranky and you don't want kids on your lawn.

But as uncool as America has become in fulfilling a kid's desire to get a cheeseburger and Coke on a hot day, England has somehow gotten worse. They won't even let you ride a horse-and-cart through a KFC drive-thru.

What happened to you, England? You used to be cool.

Recently, Ian Bell, a traveler, was stopped from taking his horse, Jon Jon, and a cart through a KFC in Carlisle, Cumbria.

(A traveler is a type of nomad. The UK has two types, Irish Travelers and Romany Gypsies.)

Bell and Jon Jon had lined up behind some other cars, and were waiting for their turn when a manager came out and said "you're not allowed through."

Bell said it was humiliating, and he thought he was being discriminated against.

I think the humiliating part is that you were ordering from KFC, but that's just me.

Not Bell though. He doubled down and told the newspaper, "I think my treatment from KFC has been downright disgusting and discriminatory against people who use horse and carts. The horse and cart is a common way to get around where I’m from."

To be fair, I didn't think travelers were "from" anywhere, and that was kind of the point. Still, I understand what he means. Travelers typically live out of vans, RVs, and even horse-drawn wagons, moving from place to place, working at odd jobs. They're victims of harassment and discrimination, although they have regular brushes with the law as well.

Still, if Bell wants to enjoy a bucket of chicken, that's his right. But after being turned away by KFC, he found a place that accepted him and Jon Jon for who they are.

"In the end, I had to go to McDonald’s for a Big Mac," said Bell. "No one there batted an eyelid, they didn’t say anything to me at all, they just served me my food."

KFC corporate-backed up their manager though. They provided very important — and logical — reasons for their decision.

"(T)he safety of our guests is really important."

Uh, that's it?

Oh, well, if it's really important. I mean, sure, that's understandable. The only thing more important than "really important" is "very important," and I'm only glad they didn't resort to something that drastic.

In the end, I think Bell made one very important mistake, one that would have kept Bell, Jon Jon, and KFC's other customers completely safe.

His seat just needed a 4-inch sissy bar.

Photo credit: PXFuel (Free for commercial use)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.