Two summers ago I applied for a job at the one and only, Chipotle Mexican Restaurant. Because I was a Chipotle enthusiast and frequented the restaurant multiple times a week, I figured having a summer job there would be a match made in heaven. The training process emphasized striking a balance between being fast and providing great customer service, which is hard to do if you're dealing with some of the most demanding and particular customers. Soon after starting, I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew (pun intended).
1. Extra meat costs extra.
One of the very first things Chipotle employees are taught during training is that one serving of meat = one full spoonful. Not more, not less. As much as I want to give you "just a few more pieces of chicken", I have to remind you that "if you want more meat, I can double your serving, but for an additional cost."
2. Please don't say tacos.
Tacos. Dreaded tacos. They are by far the most annoying menu item to prepare. You have to do everything 3 times, all while trying to fit the perfect "1/3 of a spoonful" portion into extremely delicate little shells. And what's worse, if your order is to-go, I am charged with the near impossible task of putting a to-go lid on without breaking your tacos. Are you sure you don't just want a bowl?
3. "What's the difference between a bowl and a salad?"
There really is no difference. Salads have salad lettuce on the bottom, while a bowl has shredded lettuce on top. Both have rice. A salad comes with salad dressing automatically, but you can easily request a salad dressing with your bowl for free. In conclusion, the salad is a bit redundant. It is probably there so the customer can feel healthier ordering a salad that has sour cream and cheese on it.
4. The art of burrito rolling.
If you're stationed as "roller" for your shift, you know the feeling of watching that "double rice, double meat, extra salsa" burrito come down the line towards you. You take a deep breath and tell yourself it's just like rolling any other burrito. Everyone is counting on you. When you roll it perfectly, no rips or tears, you expect a parade, cheering, confetti, and tears of gratitude streaming from the customer's eyes. But alas, your feat goes unappreciated as the customer pays and leaves without blinking an eye. Not all heroes wear capes.
Customers' pronunciation flubs were some of my coworker's favorite things to laugh about while closing after a long day. It can take a minute to decipher "sofa-rights" to mean "sofritas." You could never imagine all the ways people pronounce "barbacoa." If you struggle with the terminology, make it easier for yourself, and us, and say "I'll have the tofu," or the "shredded beef."
6. Getting creative with your free meal.
Every Chipotle employee gets a free meal and drink whenever they work a shift. This lends itself to becoming very familiar with the menu and becoming exactly the type of finicky customer you hate serving: "I'll have a bowl, double chicken, with a few pieces of steak, chips crumbled on top, and salad dressing mixed in."
7. Gaining weight.
There is such a thing as "too much of a good thing." Even though Chipotle is fresh, that doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy for everyday consumption. My daily dose of a chicken quesadilla dipped in sour cream might have been comprised of the freshest Chipotle ingredients, but that didn't keep my jeans from getting tighter and tighter.
8. Long lines and long hours.
It's no secret that Chipotle can be extremely busy. When the line is stretching out the door, there needs to be as many employees on the food line as possible. Sometimes things are moving so fast that you don't realize your shift has been over for twenty minutes. Chipotle's hours are 1 1am-10 pm, but most people don't realize openers come in at 6 am for food prep and closers can leave as late as midnight. Life as a Chipotle employee is all day, erry day.
9. Onions, onions, and more onions.
Onions are a huge ingredient in most of Chipotle's dishes. That means the prep workers are in the back chopping fresh onions non-stop. Sometimes, even while working on the food line outside of the kitchen, you'd feel your eyes start to water and burn. The smell clung to me and my belongings so much that now the smell of onions can still make me a bit nauseous.
10. "Guac is extra, is that okay?"
Guac with your meal is $1.80 extra. I know it sucks, and I am sorry to be the deliverer of bad news. Saying this never fails to entice a cliché, "that's a little ridiculous, don't you think?" or "you guys should really change that" from the customer. I'm on your side! I don't make the rules, I just follow them. Plus, there's always Qdoba if you really hate the extra cost that much.
As with any job, working at Chipotle had its pluses and minuses. It could certainly be overwhelming, but I am grateful for the cool coworkers I met and the things I learned. To this day I can still remember how many teaspoons of lime go in the chipotle-lime rice, and I don't think my muscle memory will ever forget how to roll the perfect burrito. After eating Chipotle every day for a whole summer I swore I'd never eat it again, but I still crave it from time to time. I guess it's true: you can never really get sick of Chipotle.