I was 16 when I got hired at my first job: a cashier at the brand new Chipotle Mexican Grill that had just been constructed in the next town over. I started my training during the middle of my junior year in high school and I have worked there ever since. As I prepare to leave for college soon, I realize that my short-lived Chipotle career is coming to an end. I learned a lot just from working at the restaurant. Here are some of the things that I will take away with me as my career is coming to a close.
1. Tortillas. Burn. Fast.
When someone asks for a burrito or a taco, it all depends on the tortilla. Heating up a tortilla is a game played by a matter of seconds. One too many seconds can cause the whole thing to dry up and become crunchy.
2. Quesadillas burn your fingers
If you're on cash, you'll probably be expected to take out a quesadilla from the press. It's a terrifying experience, especially when it's rush hour and you have to pry a tortilla off of the scalding press with your bare hands. Over the months of working at Chipotle, I've developed a method of using a bowl and scooping the tortilla off the surface with it. Also, don't ask us to cute your quesadilla because we're not allowed to do so.
3. Making kids meals will make you hate kids
Whether it's a Kid's Build Your Own or a Kid's Quesadilla Meal, you'll feel slightly irked when a customer asks for one to be made. They simply slow down the momentum of the line as you'll have to struggle to pull apart the kid's boxes out of the stack, look for lids, and run back and forth getting sides of fruit and heating up small tortillas. Don't even question the amount of bratty children that come in.
4. Working cash is the worst job
From my own experience, being a Chipotle cashier is as stressful as training for the Olympics. You're expected to bag all the orders, ring up customers, do refunds, give out free meals and coupons, keep track of online orders, activate gift cards, sweep the dining room, wipe tables, wipe the line, fill up ice, restock inventory, and take out the trash. You'll be asked to go into the dining area and sweep the floors, all in a jiffy because you'll be called back within five seconds to help the next customer that just finished his order and is ready to pay.
Being a cashier means you'll be running around the restaurant, getting brooms from the back to sweep the dining room with, wringing out sanitizer-soaked towels (that'll give you mild chemical burns on your fingers), struggling to take out the heavy trash bags, cleaning up after peoples' enormous messes, and filling up the ice machine all at once. You'll be asked to do it all—from bagging chips to bundling forks to cleaning the bathrooms—because the other crew members working on the line and grill have to stay there wearing gloves and be prepared to help a customer at any minute.
At the end of your cash shift, you'll be expected to count your drawer and put all the financial records into a spreadsheet and an online configuration center system that keeps track of the profit made. Miscounting cash messes up the whole system and only keeps you there longer. If you forget an important receipt, you'll have to look for it in the daily records, which takes forever to do. Depositing cash into the safe at the end of your shift is also an annoying chore, as it takes a while to put in those singles that you're often left with. Overall, if you get the opportunity to work either line or cash, please don't choose cashier.
5. Massaging sour cream is therapeutic
Yes. We, as Chipotle employees, massage our sour cream. It comes in pre-made bags, and we roll and squish them in order to "loosen up" the cream, which can sound pretty odd. The process is quite stress-relieving and oddly satisfying.
6. You'll smell like meat all the time
This one's pretty obvious. When you're standing in the kitchen all day, you'll become an absorbent sponge to all the odors of cilantro, carnitas, beef, chicken, and spices.
7. The music gets old
If you're expecting Chipotle to play the new Drake or Ed Sheeran, think again. The music is usually instrumental or extremely indie and underground, and it loops around day after day.
8. You'll master kitchen skills like a pro
You'll be trained to cut onions, cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, and peppers during your Chipotle career. These skills will last you a lifetime and are convenient to use at home and to show off to your family and friends.
10. Online orders pile up
Why must people always choose to order online when it's rush hour? These online orders stack up and we can't get to make them in time, especially when it's super busy. I promise, we're trying, so don't be too disheartened when we don't have your order ready when you come in.
11. Closing is fun...if you're with the right crew
Closing can be hell, and you usually won't get out until 11:30 p.m., but it can be fun when you're with the right crew and manager. Closing the restaurant allows you to work together as a team, and you can goof off a bit and even bring your own speakers for music.
12. You'll be given wellness checks at the beginning of every shift
A recently implemented policy of Chipotle, Wellness Checks ensure that all employees are safe, healthy, and ready to work before they can clock in for their shift. Chipotle doesn't want to spread illnesses to customers and will shut down the restaurant if a worker or customer is found sick or vomiting.
13. There are 13 characteristics that Chipotle looks for in its employees
Chipotle is selective in hiring its employees and wants to ensure an enjoyable customer experience. Therefore, the company must stress the importance of hospitality. There are 13 characteristics that Chipotle looks for in its employees: Ambitious, Happy, Smart, Polite, Respectful, Honest, Conscientious, Presentable, Curious, Motivated, Hospitable, High Energy, and Infectiously Enthusiastic. These traits ensure that the team will be successful in delivering the message of Chipotle to its customers. Chipotle is constantly improving and strives to better its employees through training and teaching them new things each and every day.
Some things I have learned from working at Chipotle are quite useful, while others are quite odd and unusual. There have been rough days when I hated my job, while there have been other days that were fun, and time seemed to fly by. Nevertheless, I ultimately owe it all to this job for teaching me the value of hard work.