Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Tortilla-Slinger Doppelganger

Who’s On Chipotle?

When I walked into Chipotle, at first I was excited there was only one other customer there. Then I was worried. Why is there only one customer here at 6:00 PM on Tuesday?

Soon I would find out.

There were seven high school kids behind the counter, five guys and two girls. The girl farthest to my right, the tortilla issuer - really, that is her only job, heating and slinging tortillas - said;

“Welcome to Chipotle. Can I take your order?” 

“Well,” I said, “I see I beat the rush.”

Crickets. Nothing.

“Welcome to Chipotle.” She repeats like a robot that had to start over.  “Can I take your order?” (Picture a younger Aubrey Plaza) 

So I got to the point:

“Get ready. Hope my complicated order doesn’t break your computer.” I say with a chuckle.

Again, crickets. Now the Aubrey Plaza tortilla-slinger is glaring at me. How did I turn into the old guy trying to be hip and funny?

“Heh, heh. Sorry. OK, just kidding, it’s really easy. I just need two chicken quesadillas and one plain cheese quesadilla.”

“Two cheese and two chicken quesadillas?” She asks.

“No, two chicken and one cheese quesadilla.”

“One chicken and two cheese?” She asks.

“Again . . . no, just two chicken and one cheese. Please.”

This was only the start of the world’s stupidest game of Telephone ever.

See, everyone behind the counter at Chipotle has one or two  specific responsibilities. First is the aforementioned tortilla-slinger. There is the guy who dollops out chopped meat. Next to him is the guy who dollops out cooked veggies. Then the cheese guy. Then there is the guacamole guy. Then the tortilla wrapper guy. Then there is the tortilla cutter and re-heater guy.  And then, finally, the cashier woman.

All the way down the line, from the meat guy to the veggies guy, to the cheese guy, to the guacamole guy, to the tortilla wrapper guy, they all proceeded to break into a Chipotle version of “Who’s On First?”

“Now, it is just two chicken quesadillas, right?”

“Three chicken quesadillas?”

“No, one chicken and one cheese.”

“A chicken and two cheese?”

“No,” I finally correct, starting to lose patience, “It still is . . .  two chicken quesadillas . . .  and one cheese quesadilla.”

Finally the meat guy plops chicken on two tortillas, and then gives them straight to the tortilla-wrapping guy who starts to wrap them without putting any cheese in them. Just chicken.

“Wait,” I say, “You have to put cheese in with the chicken.”

Flummoxed and exasperated, the tortilla wrapper guy says;

“So what you really want is two chicken AND cheese quesadillas?”

“Yes,” I say starting to get pissed, “Two cheese and chicken quesadillas . . . and a plain cheese quesadilla.”

The wrapper guy looks back at the tortilla-slinger girl, the veggies guy and the meat guy and the cheese guy in pure disbelief at my stupidity.  In utter frustration, he then says to me quite sternly:

“But you just said two chicken quesadillas, not two cheese and chicken quesadillas.”

Honest to god, I am not making this up. This is how it happened.

“The cheese in a chicken quesadilla is implied.” I say, starting to lose it. “You don’t ask for cheese on a pizza, do you? The word quesa in Quesadilla means cheese in Spanish, for the love of god.”

(Remember the maître d in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” who snipped; “I weep for the future”? Well, I didn’t say it, but I thought it)

“No,” the tortilla-wrapper scolds me; “Many customers here at Chipotle order plain chicken quesadillas without cheese. Have you even heard of lactose intolerance? It is quite serious, you know.”

Now I am getting free medical expertise from the tortilla-wrapper with attitude. It’s the Cheese Shop skit in Monty Python. The Cheese Shop without a scrap of cheese.

But it was clean.

“Let me try this again,” I said, starting to feel like I was trapped in an episode of “Punked” combined with the “Seinfeld” soup Nazi. Loudly, and for dramatic affect,  I cleared my throat and said;

“Ahahahem. What I want - for the fifth time - is two chicken and cheese quesadillas and one plain cheese quesadilla. I like cheese in my cheese and chicken quesadilla, call me crazy. "

Now I was channeling my inner-frenzied Ben Stiller. 

The attitude tortilla-wrapper guy then repeats my order, slowly, clearly annoyed;

“Two . . . chicken . . . and . . . cheese quesadillas. And one cheese quesadilla, hold the chicken?”

It was all I could do to not to go all Jack Nicholson “Five Easy Pieces” on him and say; “Yeah, hold the chicken. Hold the chicken between your knees.”

The cashier girl/woman - picture "Modern Families" Sarah Hyland - then says to me;

“That will be $15.50, please.” When I give her a twenty, she makes change. And then, somehow, with a straight face, she asks;

“Wait. You had the two veggie quesadillas, right?”

Now I truly believe this is an elaborate prank and I start looking around for the hidden camera. This has to be a joke.

The only other customer in the store, a tall 30-ish brown-haired woman in a nice blue suit, standing off on the side, calls out;

“No, the two veggies was my order.”

The cashier woman has now become upset. A manager from the back has to be summoned to correct the mistake on her cash register/computer. 

After several long minutes, they finally find the manager from the back to adjust the computer/register and they give me my twenty back.  The manager quickly leaves to go back to his office, I presume.

Then one of the crack Chipotle workers asks me;

“Do you want your quesadillas sliced?”

Without thinking, I say yes. How hard can it be to slice three quesadillas?

Big mistake #1. The slicer guy is different than the wrapper guy and he cannot find a knife to save his life. It took the slicer guy two minutes to find a damn knife. Got that? His main job is to slice the quesadillas and burritos and he can't find a knife. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. 

Finally I pay. Again. The cashier woman gives me change. Again.

Then I remember;

“Oh yeah, I need two sides of avocado.”

The avocado guy and the cashier woman spin around and throw up their arms in disgust. 

Big mistake #2. Now they have to go get the manager, again, to adjust my order for the third time because they have to charge me for the two tiny, tiny clear plastic containers that contain trace amounts of avocado.

“Maybe you could just give them to me for free?” I suggest. They scoffed at that concept. Scoffed, I say. 

Five minutes later the manager comes out. Again. Clearly peeved. I pay a third time. And that’s when I finally lose it;

“How hard can this be?” I ask nobody in particular. “I’ve tried to order just three things. Three damn things.  Two of the things only have two ingredients, chicken and cheese, and one has only one ingredient, cheese.  This isn’t exactly MasterChef. A monkey could do this."

All of them stare at me blankly. My rant gains steam;

“It took six of you twenty minutes to make this order,” I said, “And then you got the order wrong six damn times. And people wonder why China is kicking our stupid asses. I wasn't going to be that guy, but now I am going to say it: I weep for the future.”

As I finally head for the door, almost in tears with frustration, pathetically clutching my bag of two chicken quesadillas - with cheese -  and one plain cheese quesadillas - also with cheese - none of which ever got sliced, by the way, I hear one of the Chipotle employees say under his breath;

“What a dick.”

Being out in public would be so much better without people.