Prepare to be shocked. I am about to tell you a fact that many have not seemed to grasp in modern society. This fact may shake up a lot of presumptions and preconceived notions you hold, so be warned. Here it is: employees of restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores that you frequent are actually people. Yes, they have families, distinct personalities, and against popular opinion, they really are not trying to ruin your day. This may be bewildering to some, but these minimum wage employees actually have very little power over how the multi-million dollar corporations they work for operate. So next time you are shouting at a much higher than inside-voice volume in their face about how you were charged $0.37 more than usual for that pumpkin streusel bar, consider that maybe the employee who is experiencing your projectile spittle may have not actually had a direct hand in ripping you off – pennies at a time.
I have had very personal experience in being on the other side of the counter from an irate, spitting customer who just can’t catch a break, or an undeserved discount. Seriously, spit happens often, and I’ve had to Windex it off the sneeze-guard one too many times. Yes, in my time at working at Chipotle Mexican Grill, originator of the fast-casual burritos and bowls, I’ve encountered the passive-aggressive, the aggressively passive and occasionally the sans-all-passiveness aggressive.
There seems to be a sense of entitlement surrounding the food service. I understand that customers are paying for their meals, but in my personal opinion, $6.70 does not give you a free pass to treating the person serving you like they are your personal food robot, devoid of any feeling or opinion. I am sorry that we are out of guacamole today (causing you to save $1.95, just saying). I’m sorry that you are personally offended by the excessive saltiness of the chips. I’m really sorry that the spicy contents of your burrito burst from a hole in the tortilla and spilled all over your work khakis. But honestly, you don’t have to threaten to tell a manager, demand a refund or cause a scene in the middle of the restaurant. Just treat me like an adult equal to you, maybe attempt to hold a civil conversation that doesn’t involve you calling me any derogatory names, and we may actually be able to accomplish a compromise.
Sure, I’m grateful for my job, and there are perks for working at Chipotle, like endless free burritos, bowls and tacos – which haven’t exactly helped my “freshman fifteen.” But if I witness one more child having a drawn-out, piercing meltdown because I put cheese on top of his beans instead of beside them, I might lose it. If I greet one more customer with a “Hi, welcome to Chipotle!” and get an unsmiling “chicken burrito, extra rice” in response, it’s going to wear on me. And honestly, if I get one more suggestive innuendo about if I can handle large burritos from a fresh-out-of-puberty high schooler, I might just leave the line and get my 6’2”, 300 pound co-worker Cesar to finish the order.
So a hopeful, pleading word of advice to those stuck in a line when they are buying coffee, or those who choose to order twelve extra steak burritos to go during the dinner rush; please remember, the employees you interact with are people too. Would it be such an imposition to treat them like it?