“A chicken burrito bowl with a tortilla on the side, black beans, brown rice, mild salsa, cheese, lettuce and guac please.” The workers on the line scooped the ingredients into the bowl and passed it down the counter; my meal was built in front of me. The employee at the end reached for the guacamole, paused and looked up: “Guac is extra.” Extra? I thought to myself. That is rather unfortunate, because I love guacamole and I believe it to be the defining part of my burrito experience. “That’s fine,” I replied. He swiftly scooped a pathetic pile of green guac and plopped it down on my bowl like a cafeteria lunch lady. I sat dumbfounded in front of my first bowl of knock-off Mexican food, aka Chipotle, and began chowing down. Despite guac being extra, I became a loyal customer of Chipotle after that first burrito bowl that I ordered, and only took time off from eating there when E. coli broke out.
Chipotle serves good food. This is a fact that I have to point out. It is probably not the most genuine Mexican food out there, but it is real food. I recognized this when I started working there this past summer. Workers arrive as early as 7 a.m. to cut up and prepare a day’s worth of ingredients. Unlike competing fast food restaurants where employees wake up in the morning to dig through their fridge and thaw decades-old miscellaneous processed chicken nuggets to serve people, Chipotle the morals to serve food with integrity.
I decided to work at Chipotle for several reasons: I wanted to earn some extra bucks and wanted to try working in the food industry, but, most importantly, I wanted their employee benefit of free meals at all my shifts. This might not sound convincing to a fashionista who would much rather have employee discount at whatever brand store they work for. However, being fan of fake Mexican cuisine, I was stoked for this deal.
During my first break, I went to place my order as usual: a chicken bowl, a tortilla on the side, black beans, brown rice, mild salsa, cheese, lettuce and guac. The items were scooped into my bowl accordingly and when it came to the guac, the worker looked at the black cap shirt I was wearing, which matched his uniform, and pushed the bowl down the line. I looked at the finished product in awe and grinned when I didn’t hear him say “guac is extra.”
After finding a spot in the store, I sat down to savor every bite of the food in front of me. Only two bites in, my break was up and they called me to get back on as cashier. Unless I physically stuffed the food down my throat, I realized that it was impossible to get what I wanted in the allotted period of time. Disappointed, I made my way back to the cash register.
As my first shift went on, I realized that Chipotle has no chill for its workers. Orders were completed every 15 seconds and I was expected to get them the drink they wanted, bag their items and ring them up at that pace. In addition to that, when orders were not being made, I was expected to take out the trash, wipe down the tables, do the dishes, sweep the floor and jump right back on as cashier when someone needed to be rung up. Every ounce of energy was squeezed from me by the end of my shift. I understood the tradeoff for free food, and I took action my second shift.
When it came time for my first break of my second shift, I had already planned out the meal I wanted. I was simply going for gains. “Yes, I would like a chicken bowl with no rice, double barbacoa, double steak, guac, and cheese … and a large drink with chips please.” The cashier rang up my order and before he swiped my employee card to waive the cost, I saw in green digits of the analog monitor: $23.32. My 10-minute break was over before I was able to get over the fact that my employee benefit allowed me to place such a ridiculous order. Feeling rather accomplished, I jumped back to the ever-exhausting work. Now when I look back at my employment at Chipotle, guac had always been extra.
- Science & Tech
- On the Menu