Chipotle is a source of tangible happiness for so many people. The recent ecoli incident has truly put its fans to the test, but the die-hard burrito fanatics have proved that nothing can stand in the way of chips and guac, and I think we’ve all learned that some things are worth dying for. Ecoli is just the price we pay for taste-bud bliss.
There are three types of Chipotle customers.
1. Basic people. This encompasses most teenagers and 20’s-year-olds who dress and act according to mainstream culture. We’re looking at guys who wear khakis and use fire emojis when making mix tape references, and girls who look like American Eagle models and love Twitter.
2. Quirky people. These are the people who used to be emo (or still are emo), the movie buffs, the book-lovers, the folks with big glasses and cat purses.
3. Adults. By this, I mean your 40-year-old teacher who likes to keep up with the trends, or a businesswoman who just enjoys quality food.
I mean none of those groups negatively, and of course there will be outliers, but those three categories are based on years of observation and research and I feel pretty confident in my assessments.
So, I guess I’d fall into either Category 1 or Category 2, because I, (insert my name), do love Chipotle. I get the same thing every time, chicken burrito-white rice-no beans, pico-lettuce-cheese-sour cream (lots of sour cream), and I savor every bite of the dang thing that’s bigger than my heart (and my stomach).
Last week, my friend Larrie and I decided to go to Chipotle because the weather was unseasonably warm for a February day and there’s a Chipotle right off campus, within walking distance. So, I met up with him by his dorm, and we traveled via foot to Chipotle, stomachs writhing for some delicious sustenance.
When we got inside the building, I hastily removed my scarf and jacket because I was warm, and, surveying the seating area, noted that there were a fair amount of other people who thought Chipotle a good idea, mostly Category 1’s.
So I got my burrito and Larrie got his burrito bowl and at the register, we decided to order our food “for here,” which just means they give you a basket for your burrito instead of a bag, and then charge you an extra $0.30 or so.
As Larrie and I were at the soda machine filling up our cups, I asked, “Do you want to eat inside or on the patio?” It was still rather warm in the restaurant and we all know how I am about sweating. “The patio sounds good,” Larrie replied. I led the way, pushing open the door that led to the little outside eating area.
This is when things got interesting.
We noticed all the little Chipotle tables pushed together in the middle of the patio, but I thought nothing of it– perhaps some large group of burrito lovers had previously hosted a community meal here. Then I noticed a wire weaving in and out of all the chair arm-rest holes, the wire anchored to something in the ground. “Oh…” I guess I hadn’t realized it was February. Larrie verbalized the chaos: “Oh shit, I think the patio’s closed.” We both agreed that it was really terribly embarrassing and decided to go back inside with our heads held high. But we both had our hands full of burrito parts and full cups, so we had to juggle those around until Larrie had a free hand to grab the door.
Thud. (That’s the noise a door makes when it’s locked and won’t open.)
And the panic set in.
I should mention that while some Chipotle patios open to the parking lot, this one was a little different. This patio had a separate door than the main restaurant entrance, and it was fenced in. So the only way to get back inside was through the door that was locked, and we couldn’t just walk off the patio because there was this metal junk fence (you know how Chipotle loves that “scrap metal” aesthetic) surrounding it.
When Larrie pulled the handle, all the Category 1’s inside turned to look at the thud noise. The door was entirely glass, so they all saw us standing there, clearly trapped outside because the door wasn’t moving. And they all turned back around, giggling among their friends.
“Oh my god, it’s locked, what do we do?”
“I don’t know; we’ll have to hop the fence. Let’s run.”
“But wait! I got my burrito ‘for here’! I can’t take the basket with me!”
“Brittany we have no choice.”
“I can’t abandon my morals!”
“But this is a time of crisis.”
“I have to go back.”
So it came down to this: if we wanted our freedom from being Chipotle zoo animals, we had to hop the fence. Fortunately it was one of those weenie fences that only go up to your waist, but it was still challenging because, remember, we had all this food and beverage to juggle around, and of course there was nowhere convenient to set it down. So after a fair amount of repositioning, Larrie threw his long legs over the fence and gained his freedom. Now it was my turn. I handed off our foodstuff to him, and tried to bring my legs over the fence, but I’m not as tall as he is, and I had these clunky boots on. There was a struggle, my hip bone made a weird popping noise, there was laughter, there was crying, there was a dramatic soundtrack, and then finally, I found myself on the side of the fence that meant freedom from Chipotle’s personal incarceration mechanism. FREEDOM.
But I wasn’t done with my mission; now I needed to return to the eye of the storm and exchange my basket for a bag.
Another convoluted aspect of this specific Chipotle is that the main door feeds right into the line, and there’s a half-wall keeps you from wandering freely about the restaurant until you order. As many of you know, Chipotles are frequently crowded, so naturally there was a line.
Pushing my way past people up the line (a bunch of Category 2’s, a smattering of Category 3’s), I finally got around all the hungry Mexican cuisine enthusiasts and up to the register, where I kindly asked for a bag because I, and I quote, “changed my mind” about eating there. The girl looked apathetic and inconvenienced, handing me a bag and promptly removing her attention from me. I put the basket on the top of one of their fancy metal trashcans, and made my way through the restaurant, feeling all the Category 1 eyes on me as I quickly slipped out the exit (this time, I exited the proper door, rather than the patio route).
Larrie was waiting outside for me, too traumatized to bear going inside, and we speed-walked back to campus, where, to stick it to the man, we ate outside at a picnic table on front campus, praising how beautiful the weather was as we began to shiver.
I don’t know what the moral of this story is, but despite how mortifying the events that transpired were, I will definitely go back to that Chipotle and burrito once again. Quite honestly, my misadventure at Chipotle was more off-putting than the ecoli debacle, but like I said: hopeless burrito romantics are rarely deflected. I feel like Larrie needs a little more time to heal, but I think with enough love and support, he’ll make it through this difficult recovery period and burrito with me once again– hopefully, by next week, because I’ve got a hankering for some face-melting Mexican awesomeness.