Chipotle and the decline of Western civilization

I’m a loyal Chipotle customer. The food is great, and each restaurant is designed to give you fresh food with awesome efficiency.

But through no fault of Chipotle’s management or employees, the awesome efficiency doesn’t materialize. And that’s cause to wonder if our civilization is simply doomed.

I think the chain is doing relatively well. I’ve been to several locations, and they’re always packed at lunch or dinner. And yet, people act as if they’ve never been there before.

Today’s example takes the cake, though I have to admit it didn’t bog me down because I was thankfully ahead of this guy. He was with an attractive woman — whether she was with him because she has issues and needs to be with a self-centered alpha male or whether she’s a paid escort, I didn’t ask. For most people, being in line at Chipotle and being with an attractive woman is enough. But no. This guy was on his cell phone.

I don’t necessarily have an issue with that. But you probably know what’s coming next.

I started my food order — crispy tacos (only get those if you’re eating in; they don’t survive car rides). After a pause, the first guy in Chipotle’s assembly line asked this guy what he wanted.

And, of course, he was startled to learn that he would be asked such a complicated question. The notion that he would (A) have to decide what he wanted to eat and (B) have to describe it a man behind a counter of food had been lost on him while he yapped on his phone and let his eyes wander on his companion du jour.

Chipotle really could not make this any easier. My only complaint with the menu is that they do not list “fajita burrito bol” as a separate item, but I’ve never confused anyone by ordering it, so no harm done. And yet people can stand in the long line for several minutes, then attempt to order in ways that make no sense. (“Can I get a fajita burrito, but with beans instead of onions and peppers.” “Yes. Order a freaking burrito.”)

One other recent infraction in the Chipotle line. They have a little plastic guard over the counter for a reason. They don’t want the germs of 200 people in their green salsa. And yet two countercultural types insisted on reaching waayyyy over the counter to make their selections by pointing. My guess they were either stoned or happened to be grad students who were angered by the hegemony of “language” among communication tools.

So I always sympathize with the good folks at Chipotle, who go to great lengths to supply a perfectly ordered assembly line that allow for thousands of combinations of meats, beans, salsa and so forth, only to have customers come up and undermine the system.

And that’s why civilization is doomed to fail. You can come up with the most efficient way of delievering a good service imaginable, and some folks — generally too self-absorbed to notice that they’re holding up 40 people who are trying to grab burritos and get back to the office before their next soul-crushing meetings — will find a way to throw a spanner in the works.

If we’re all so happy to stand in line and accomplish nothing (which traffic patterns and voting records bear out all too well), we might as well have lost the Cold War.

(end venting)

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