But sometimes, I run across someone that just has no idea what they’re talking about. And it makes me think you should include something about ingredients somewhere in your employee training process.
Time for a Chipotle bowl!
Right after I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, I looked around at all of the restaurants in my town to see where I could eat a good gluten free meal when I didn’t want to eat at home. I unfortunately didn’t have many options, so Chipotle & In-n-Out became my two local “go to” places. I found out that the only thing I couldn’t eat was your flour tortillas … and while cross contamination is an issue anywhere that serves gluten ingredients, having the employee change their gloves would help minimize that risk. At first, employees would look at me a little strange when I asked them to change their gloves and I’d quickly explain with a smile that it was for “an allergy.” Ok, we all know Celiac is an intolerance, not an allergy… but allergy is easier to explain. But when you have hungry people behind you that want their freaking burrito, sometimes I opt for ease of explanation rather than most factual explanation.
Anyway, soon they added the policy (at least at my frequented location) that when I mentioned I had an allergy, the person automatically knew to take my bowl down the line instead of handing it off. And in the last year I’ve noticed I rarely have to ask for that, most people just “get it” – so kudos to everyone for making my job easier and helping a girl out!
However, Chipotle, I had a head scratching moment the last time I visited … I asked one employee to change her gloves due to my “allergy” and she was happy to oblige. Another employee spoke up and said “What are you allergic to?” I responded with “Wheat” (again, shoot me, I know I’m wrong but since some people still look at me with three heads when I say “gluten” I opt for easy in situations like this.) Instead of “Ohhh” or “I seee” I got a “None of our items contain wheat.” Oh really, what the hell are the flour tortillas made out of then? Instead of saying that out loud, I swallowed those thoughts and just said “Yes, there is wheat in a flour tortilla. But thanks.” I should have spoken to a manager right then, but I did not. Instead I decided to blog about it. Why?
Well – first of all. I like to blab.
Secondly - I believe that living a gluten free lifestyle is first and foremost OUR responsibility. It’s OUR job to be educated. We can’t expect anyone to protect us to the same level we need to protect ourselves … after all they’re not the ones running to the bathroom after they eat some gluten, right? Yes, my hope is that one day we will be able to trust everyone that serves us food … but in the meantime we have to take ownership of our health. No excuses!
Thirdly - education! I think an experience like this is so common, and yet often ends up leaving the gluten hater frustrated and feeling helpless. Instead of just whining about it to my friends, or simply just telling a manager – why don’t we use these opportunities to educate people? From the dummy at Chipotle, to gluten eating friends, to the world wide web that may stumble on my blog post. Let’s use opportunities like this to better our future gluten hating world instead of just moping about. Sound like a plan?
And now I’m off to email corporate a link to this post….
UPDATE: Wooooo Chipotle you officially impressed me! Less than 2 hours after I emailed them I received the following response from Austin Roberts:
Thanks so much for writing to us and sharing your blog. We actually try to be as gluten-friendly as possible and this is part of our training that all of our teams go through. Our burrito and taco flour tortillas definitely have gluten in them and I apologize if our employees were misinformed. I am also sorry that you got a funny look when you asked our employees to change their gloves as this is definitely something we care about and try to accommodate as best as we can. I will make sure our teams are well trained and versed in gluten and how we can assist our gluten intolerant customers better. Thanks again for the feedback and hopefully your next experience will be much better.