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Warning: the following story may be disturbing for some readers.
All morning, I had anticipated my lunch break trip to Chipotle. That magnificent burrito heaven is, after all, my favorite place on Earth. I pulled up and parked in my favorite spot in the shade. I had already hit my stride. The light reflected off of the corrugated aluminum decorations, like the welcoming glow of nirvana. Namaste amigos–I had entered my happy place.
I swung open the door expecting a “Cheers”-like recognition from the staff (AKA burrito experts) but instead, I made eye contact with an employee I had never seen. This should have been the first tip off that my world was about to crumple. The second sign would have been the bleak glances coming from the patrons exiting the line. Their bodies said “hungry,” but their eyes said “we are more depressed than that weird scene in ‘Halloweentown II’ when the entire town turns gray.”
I moved forward in line until I reached the tortilla presser. In the hierarchy of burrito assembly, the tortilla presser is at the bottom of the totem pole. While he or she has not yet worked up to the elite status of the burrito wrapper, the role the presser plays cannot be trivialized. The presser lays the foundation for the Mexican food-inspired magic that will follow.
The tortilla had been pressed to perfection. I nodded in appreciation toward the presser and moved down the assembly line. I was now standing directly in front of the new employee–this stranger who had infiltrated the ranks of the burrito line and would eventually sabotage my every happiness. “Brown or white rice?” “Brown,” I replied. The tone of my voice meant business. The tone in his voice said, “I will kill what you love.” I felt my soul begin to split into horcruxes the second he poured the rice across the beautiful tortilla foundation.
It was so wrong. He had put way too much rice on the tortilla. The ratio was already a train wreck. He then asked, “Black, pinto, or refried beans?” “Black beans,” I replied, as I steadied myself against the ledge. The sabotage continued as he slopped down the black beans with no consideration. He did not attempt to drain the beans before placing them on the burrito. I watched my once delicately warmed tortilla take on fluid faster than the Titanic.
“Which meat?” the saboteur then asked. “Barbacoa,” I replied with a sense of panic in my voice. The barbacoa was scooped onto my burrito, which was already at maximum capacity. I could feel my throat closing when I examined the sad state of this contemporary Mexican meal.
The unthinkable then happened. The burrito wrapper on duty turned to the certified sociopath making my burrito and asked if she could take a minute for the bathroom, and if he could take over the burrito wrapping. At this point, I felt myself entering into a dangerously unstable heart rhythm. An EKG taken at that moment would have registered something never before seen in medical textbooks. My hand was placed against the glass in a symbol of solidarity with my burrito. I was the Charlize Theron to the burrito’s “Mighty Joe Young.” When I removed my hand, the imprint of a sweaty palm remained.
I scanned down the line and said, “both salsas.” The maniac behind the glass looked at me the way a predator looks at his pray, with unblinking eye contact. He scooped way too much of both salsas and deposited them onto my burrito like this was some sort of Jackson Pollock tribute. My eyes were darting around the restaurant, in search of anyone who might have some generic Xanax. I couldn’t locate any stressed college students or trophy wives. It was just me, sans anxiolytic. There was nothing but my deteriorating state of mind and the man yielding a stainless steel scooper.
I mumbled out the rest of my order, both fully aware that my burrito could not handle it, but also fully aware that I had to commit to my order. “Corn, cheese, guac, lettuce,” I managed to mumble through my wheezing. I fumbled around in my purse and tightly grasped my inhaler. I recognized that to die in a Chipotle would be a most heavenly way to die.
The Bundy-esque lunatic proceeded through my order, with reckless abandon for my mental health. Everything was wrong about the proportions of the toppings, but I just stood there, powerless in the face of such evil.
The horror that I had experienced was nothing compared to what was next. He looked at my burrito with a face devoid of human emotion and began to fold. I watched in shock as he twisted, rotated, and folded, comprising the integrity of the entire structure. His haphazard burrito origami caused the tortilla to tear. I’m was full on wheezing at this point, and sweat poured out of my every pore.
I pulled the inhaler out of my purse. I had to make it clear to this straight-up psycho that he would not kill me, despite his best attempts. Then, he then did the unthinkable. He dumped the contents of my burrito onto the foil and procured another tortilla. With no care at all for the contents inside, he dumped the medley into a new tortilla. Then he proceeded to do something so offensive that it is giving me palpitations to type–he wrapped the foil around the burrito like it was a Tootsie Roll instead of first wrapping the burrito and then encasing it in foil.
I was so defeated at this point that I had all but given up. I paid for my sad, smashed excuse of a burrito. I sat down at the closest table because I felt my legs giving out beneath me. I opened the foil containing my lunch and started at the mauled burrito. What followed in this recount of nightmares is the most disturbing part of all. I was forced to eat my burrito with a fork.