Chimichanga Line

Senior Ford in 1919 (copyride wikipedia)

Senior Ford in 1919 (copyright Library of Congress, photo by Hartsook)

Chipotle’s business model has one subtle issue: the lightening quick and oft robotic preparation of my burrito, just behind an insincere sneeze screen, makes it almost impossible not to attack my burrito like a rabid werewolf when it’s done. It’s like Henry Ford got a hold of their operating manual – one team member grabs the tortilla, another scoops the rice, another dumps a choice of meat, and yet another team member takes it from there to offer up an assortment of unnamed salsas. By the time the manager rings me up, I feel like I’m behind schedule – like I should have taken a few bites before the aluminum foil was sealed around my widget – er, uh, burrito.

Here is why the issue is subtle: this is exactly why I go to Chipotle. I want it to be fast and efficient – the entire experience, including my role as patron. I want to be part of the assembly line so that I have enough time left over during my lunch break to write. I refrain from speaking during the end-to-end process, and revert to pointing and nodding as to not waste time with the potential for “hunhs?” or pleasantries. How am I? I’m feeling behind schedule, but what does that have to do with the production of burritos? Give me my burrito so I can write. And if you want me to take a few bites along the way, just ask. Just, please, don’t ask me to name the salsas.



Categories: Creative Writing, Observation, Rambling, Stream of Conscious

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. I have a quiet voice, so I get a lot of “Huh?” when I order, so I’ll try pointing next time.

  2. Oh dear, Dominic is going to roll his eyes and mumble under his breath because…Eric fully engages “the line.” It was a little over one year ago when Chipotle opened a magnet within ten minutes of my home office. Clearly it was divine something. I frequent the place at least three times a week. Ergo, most of the staff know me and my order that rarely changes. What makes Chipotle an enjoyable experience for me is interacting with the folks who otherwise, mechanically, stimulate my salivary glands. Most of them love to smile so I find my contributtion to their chore is to encourage their being ‘on.’ And I do, much to the dismay of those behind me in the ‘other’ line. 🙂 Shared with a dollop of medium apology.

    • Hahahaha! I love it. You know, it is very rare that I’d prefer a mechanical interaction with a person. The only commonality tends to be writing or coffee on the other side. The irony is that I’m always trying to identify what makes us ‘on’ as a source of inspiration for writing. A bot is certainly no way to live for the rest of the day-especially as an extrovert – but give me burrito and java and we can negotiate from there! 🙂

  3. I want a burrito now! You make a funny point that the eater is the final stage of the production line!

  4. “I want it to be fast and efficient – the entire experience, including my role as patron.”
    I loved that line.
    It’s true. It’s kind of an unspoken but understood element of fast food – diners should be as efficient as servers.
    As a teenager working in A&W, I used to resent the people who would sit there for hours nursing cups of coffee. Really!? You want to sit in an A&W all Sunday? GET OUTTA HERE!!!

  5. When time permits, I hope you head down to the Mission District…I’m sure you know how good the burritos are there.

  6. I think i should do more of this myself. 🙂

  7. Happy chomping while happy writing.

    I gather you eat alone. 🙂


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