Let me begin by asking: have you ever heard of the woes of working for Chipotle? It's not something corporate would tell you, and any employee that would, would be promptly silenced, or worse. The horrors that I speak of that await the average doe-eyed employee are benefits like great health insurance plans that cover individuals and entire families at amazingly affordable premiums. There's even dental and eye insurance. Don't forget paid sick leave, vacations, and breaks. And for the college students there's tuition reimbursement of up to $5,250+ per year and debt-free degree plans for certain majors at select institutions. On top of that, wages are slightly above minimum wage at many locations. The Chipotle culture oozes positivity in wooing customers with a smile and being a friendly place that cares about cultivating employees that believe in the company's mission of making food with integrity. The best perk of all though are the free meals. In short, it's a hell hole.
I applied to Chipotle among many other jobs knowing what I would be subjecting myself to a "fast-paced, high pressure environment." As fate would have it, Chipotle was the first to call me back three days later. As a newborn in the adult world I was still innocent and naive, but I wanted to wallow in my ignorant bliss. I acted out eagerly what I would say and do as a future Chipotle employee imagining the glee of interacting with customers. I researched online eagerly about all of the secrets of Chipotle and what to do for the interview process, which I learned was a rigorous weeks long process. As far as I knew, getting hired by Chipotle was a prestigious honor that only the most qualified of a swath of applicants begging to work at Chipotle would have. What's more, Chipotle was the only place that I ever ate out to and ordered delivery from in the past several years, so my interest was piqued. Chipotle was a good type of different.
Prepared with a long list of interview answers and wearing non-denim pants for the first time in years, I made the trek to my local Chipotle counting down the minutes to the interview. When I got there, I was sat down and interviewed at a dining table. I was asked to tell a little bit about myself, why I wanted to work at Chipotle, what I'd need help with, and how soon I could work... And just like that, I was hired on the spot and was due to start work two days later. Talk about unexpected, and a sign of things to come.
Prior to my first day at work I had to read a bunch of documents to prepare me for the job. It's the kind of stuff I could definitely see people treating like a EULA when installing some software. After that, when I was so excited to get my hands dirty for my first day at work...I ended up watching orientation training videos all day. I was afraid of not remembering most of the info, but that didn't really matter because I'd only be working on frying chips and taco shells, and working the line where the assembly line food making is done.
The training videos were pretty yippee with high reaching corporate ideals and an introduction of the highly involved and motivated Chipotle culture of being professional, super friendly, customer obsessed, and having food integrity. And, I mean, that's great, but it's a bit much. And darn, the orientation videos make out the people working on the line as the most extroverted, excited, and sincere people ever who say phrases like "I hope to see you again!" and "Welcome to Chipotle! What can I start for you!" and refrain from unprofessional words and phrases like "sure" and "no problem." And ya know, I could totally nail that, but being an introvert, or just a person looking to earn some money, I'm looking at this like...yah, ok.
Also there were plenty of videos advocating for employee rights and empowerment against mismanagement, against mistreatment, and with the whole fair equal opportunity employment and free of any form of discrimination spiel. So, Chipotle appeared to have a heart of warmth and positivity at the center of its culture that genuinely cares for its employees and guests and not just profits. I ended up not remembering half of the stuff said, but it wouldn't matter anyway as I would later learn everyone has their own corporate policy.
During all of this I kept asking questions, but the person answering I could tell was getting annoyed, especially since I kept calling big tortillas, burrito shells, and small tortillas, taco shells, which caused a lot of confusion. There were a couple of thousand yard stares and some disappointed head shakes from them.
Then the next day came when I would actually be working. I saw my shift started at 7 AM to my surprise, but I did say that I was willing to work any day at any time. I got up at 6 and got prepared and dressed, then started my half hour walk while it was still dark out only to arrive to the Chipotle with no way in. I started lowkey panicking thinking that maybe the time on my phone was wrong, or I just didn't know the entrance into the place. Then, some minutes later, one employee came by telling me that the manager was going to be late. Then 23 minutes after 7, another manager came by and started badmouthing the other manager who was supposed to come in earlier... And then another employee responded saying that's why they're only there to get in, do their work, and then get out as soon as they can. Then when we clocked in there were hints dropped that we should put down that we got in at 7....
Talk about that motivated, team oriented, and positive Chipotle culture woohoo... My cheery innocent perceptions of working at Chipotle and my sense of honesty...CRUSHED...by the grim reality of the workplace.
The rest of the day didn't turn out too bad when I was trained on and started making chips and felt the heavy responsibility of knowing dozens upon dozens of customers would be consuming the possibly overcooked or undercooked chips I was making. I salted and limed those babies good. Then I got trained on and worked the line. A coworker was demonstrating for me, so when the first customer came by I was eagerly looking to see that signature Chipotle customer obsession. But all that happened was a really casual, almost unenthused, "Hey, what I can get for you?" Turns out that real life isn't the training videos and employees aren't robots.
I worked the rest of the day assembling entrees and then panicking when someone ordered something that wasn't a burrito bowl because I didn't know what bowl or kind of foil to use half the time. I also had trouble figuring out which side of the foil was shiny to have it face down, so when burritos would get wrapped, customers would see the shiny wrapping. It also turns out you gotta serve a lot more rice than the training videos tell you to...and a lot more...of everything. And a customer got red in the face at me because I accidentally forgot about their meal and skipped over them.
All in all, it wasn't too bad of a first day getting a taste of the real working world... This'll be the first part of hopefully many to come in the Fan Fic of a Disgruntled Chipotle Employee series.