I rambunctiously, and amusedly called them out from across the store. Then the part-time wolf and I got to talking more about how much I don't like Chipotle. Damn, I even subtly alluded to this blog by saying I have 25 pages worth of material on how much I hate Chipotle. I mean, did I want to get found out and fired? Probably.
As we talked more, the part-time wolf was telling me about how in-your-face the workplace is, and that there isn't talking behind people's backs, which I was worried about and trying to avoid. Instead, people apparently say what they want to people's faces, but at the end of the day we had to be cordial. Also, talking about your frustrations about other people wasn't talking behind people's backs, but venting according to the part time wolf...which I didn't agree with. Also, he said that whatever happens during service should not be taken personally.I understood what he meant by that, because just from reading comments on this blog about insane kitchen environments...I get that dynamic, and how people's frustrations aren't because of the employees themselves, but external pressures to satisfy service and turn a profit. Then he told me to tell him whatever i wanted to say, to vent it, and that whatever venting I had wouldn't be taken personally.
Then my venting got taken personally. I was trying to get to the point of how I didn't like that he didn't own up to, or hold himself responsible for his own actions on how he treated me during any of the Friday night services. I never got to that part though. Instead, with my awkward wording, and very convoluted, roundabout way of trying to explain myself, I tried opening with how humans are different from animals by having a conscience and being able to act against their instinctual urges. I continued with how service managers have a greater responsibility because their attitude sets the tone for the rest of the crew during service and how we should aspire to do better if we recognize there is wrong. Then the conversation got sidetracked when he started arguing with me about how right vs wrong is a social construct and saying that it's arrogant for me to judge what is right and wrong? And I'm thinking to myself damn, the premise that my point is based on is already being questioned...
I ended up saying a lot of awkward phrases like "allegiance to the crew," and what not, and I came off arrogant as the part-time wolf said, or I would say, pretentious. When I kept bringing up how he should at least try to do better, he kept on diverting back to how much pressure he's under, and how it's inhumane to expect him to bottle up all of his emotions and not vent. I felt like he was gatekeeping me from having an opinion on what could be better and that what I had to say or felt didn't matter. Anyway, I could've handled things much better, and in a lot of ways, I was presumptuous.
The part-time wolf hunkered off to literally and figuratively talk behind my back to the guy working grill while I was just sitting there dumbfounded at how quickly he decided to start "venting." Meanwhile The Boss was making some corn salsa a few feet away or something listening to the entire conversation unfold. That's when he gave me the talk about how it's easier said than done with acting better and not getting tense and irritated during service. Furthermore, he taught me about the the crushing realities of working at corporate and how a manager's high-strung behavior is ultimately because of their higher up chewing their ass out about food waste and profits, which is because the higher up's higher up is chewing the higher up's ass out about food waste and profits in a trickle down effect. The Boss continued, saying that a manager's social life consequently mixes with their professional working life which I guess explains the whole...venting. With that talk, The Boss had just planted seeds of understanding in my field of narrowmindedness.
Then some time later while washing dishes I told another manager, who I shall call Janice, outright about how I'm writing a blog about my experiences at Chipotle. This was of course, made under the premise that what I had to say would remain confidential. In reality though I just made the assumption that she'd tell everyone about my blog. Anyway, there's no sign that any beans have been spilled yet, and yes, I'm pretty crazy.
The day ended uneventfully, but it was clear that what I said to the part-time wolf clearly affected him because of how curt he acted towards me the rest of the day. Then I read a write-up from someone experienced in food service who I know online about his thoughts on Chipotle's fast food corporate culture and the kinds of pressures that are put on managers. That's when all of the ideas started to click and cement themselves.
I realized that even if the ideal is to have the manager not be irritable and short tempered to not have a tense crew prone to mistakes and lower productivity, it is, as The Boss said, much easier said than done. Even people like Marco Pierre White or David Chang, chefs infamous for their temper who did eventually mellow out, still had to make those tremendous changes of mentality over the span of years, not overnight, or in a few months.
Also, I should have thought more about the part-time wolf's pressures of having multiple responsibilities, especially in a fast food corporate environment where money is the bottom line and he's constantly getting ass chewed by his higher ups. I vaguely understood the trickle down culture of ass chewing, but then I thought back to the times he'd just laugh when myself or another employee over portioned, or being REALLY PISSED when I threw out some expensive guac I messed up by accident. I realized that was his way of going, "I am so pissed off right now that I can only laugh off the immense amount of rage that I have." Him sharply criticizing me for mistakes and the next second acting nice to customers and telling me to act nicer, and getting frustrated with my overportioning is all directly a result of him trying to save his own ass from being chewed out by his higher ups ultimately in a long trickle down effect of people trying to cover their asses. The venting about the assistant to the general manager the lower managers have all made sense under this renewed understanding of how the pressures of the fast food corporate culture directly translated into the workplace. So, the part-time wolf doesn't have it easy, and from his point of view it looked like I wasn't acknowledging and had no idea about these struggles, which I could understand.
Throughout all of that commotion though, I didn't even get to tell him how I felt during the Friday night services which was my source of resentment and wariness towards him. I wanted him to at least admit that what he did was wrong and messed up, but I realized there's not really any point to talking to him in the first place if he's not going to address the problem and take steps to improve upon the issue. After all, he's been in the biz for years, and me having any heart to heart isn't going to somehow make him resolved to make steps to improving any time soon and make a gargantuan shift in mentality. When we talked, he came across as resigned as a person who is the product of his environment when he kept shifting blame or responsibility from himself onto the pressures he has to explain the reasons he acts the way he does during tense dinner rushes.
I felt at the end that I was actually guilty of my own narrow mindedness. Just as the part-time wolf expected me to do things I wasn't properly prepared or trained for, or act super nice to customers while he was hounding me, I didn't think from his perspective of being under immense pressure and how he viewed my words as pretentious and holier-than-thou. So, while his actions are not okay still, I understand where they come from, and I understand that if I were in his position, I'd likely behave the same way at first. In the end I feel like things would've been better if I had considered the possibilities and perspectives more of the manager. I then saw the part-time wolf shedding his fur....and become...the full-time human.
I can tell the full-time human is still cross at me, and whenever I make some mistake or something, he just sneers and laughs to himself. I think my understanding of and my place in Chipotle has finally stabilized though. I actually am all right with continuing to work here and I know how to survive. I actually read a person's comment in the last part of this blog which made me feel a lot better in how I should disassociate, and not take some people seriously or even remotely invest myself in this workplace anymore. After all, I am not Chipotle, just a mere Chipotle employee.
EDIT: LOL, someone made this post on the Chipotle subreddit 30 minutes before I posted this blog post!