Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lessons from the Burrito: How to be a jerk

Me, Hard(ly) at work!

At the Burrito, I've learned several lessons that are applicable to life in general. Through a series of posts, I would like to share my Burrito Wisdom, as I like to call it. For the first one, I would like to tackle one of my favorite lessons I've learned from the Burrito: how to be a jerk.

I've been suspicious of this fact for several years now, but my work at the Burrito has confirmed my suspicions on the following theory. There are two types of people in this world; there are people who play by the rules, and there are people who try to get as much as they possibly can while putting in the same, or less, effort as those who play by the rules. Let me illustrate with some quotes from Burrito customers: "Is that all the meat I get?!?" "Can't you put on just a little more cheese?" "Two dollars for extra meat! C'mon, man, just do me a favor this once!" And my two favorites: "If I make out with you, will you take a dollar off my bill?" (my response: "Sorry, miss, I'm not into chicks.") And, of course, "Can I get free food because I'm pretty?"

As a side note, the last two quotes were from customers who I have affectionately named "Burrito Skanks." These are women who come into the Burrito dressed in outfits that may be considered "sexy" in the low lighting of a bar situation and have exaggerated "evening" makeup looks; but in the florescent glory of the Burrito, they literally look like clowns. A tip to all the women out there: when you are dressing for the bar, please keep in mind that you may be in situations where non-drunk people who do not want to sleep with you will have to encounter you. Just a little PSA from me to you.

Now, on to being a jerk.

Back to the two types of people in the world. For the sake of time and space, let's refer to the first group of people, the rule followers, as "Saps" (now, please keep in mind, this is nothing personal to all you rule followers out there. I'm one of you, so don't be offended). And let's call the latter group, the rule benders, "Assholes" (I'm not going to apologize for that generalization, they truly are assholes).

Interacting with saps is easy, because we are generally an agreeable stock. We genuinely believe that everyone out there is working as hard as they possibly can to put forth their best work they can, and we work as hard as we possibly can to put forth the best work we possibly can. Therefore, we don't often get angry at people because we are extremely empathetic and constantly trying to see things through other peoples' eyes. Generally, we believe the world works best when we all work together toward a common goal and our priorities are larger scale in nature. It's more humanistic and less individualistic.

Interacting with assholes is much more difficult. This is because assholes are much more individualistic in their interactions with others. They are constantly striving to improve their own standings: socially, financially, professionally, even in getting a little extra meat on their burrito for free. You see, assholes are basically sociopaths. They know what they're doing goes against social mores, but they honestly don't care. They do everything they possibly can to get as much as they possibly can with as little personal effort or cost as possible. Basically, they're Republicans.
= Assholes.

Now, when I first started working at the Burrito, I tried to be as nice as I could with these people: "I'm really sorry. I'd love to give you some extra food for free, but we really aren't allowed." "I'm sorry, my boss is standing right next to me, and if I give you extra food, I'm going to lose my job." "I'm sorry it's so expensive, but I don't set the prices and there is really nothing I can do here." "I'm sorry that I don't find you attractive, but I really, really, REALLY like dudes." However, the longer I have worked at the Burrito, the more I've realized that these people really don't care about these reasons. All they care about is getting as much as they possibly can and that if I show any weakness whatsoever, they will pry as hard as they possibly can to get me to bend to their will. Thus, a two sentence interaction with someone becomes a ten minute interaction.

The answer? It's okay to be a jerk. "I'll give you extra food, but you're going to have to pay more." "Stop yelling at me or I'm going to call the cops." "Sir, I'll throw your burrito in the trash if you call me one more derogatory name." And, of course, "First of all, I'm really, really gay. Second of all, even if I weren't, I wouldn't sleep with you because I enjoy my life herpes-free."

These answers do a couple things for me. First of all, they're really REALLY satisfying. I mean REALLY! I used to be extremely non-confrontational, but there really is an endorphin rush associated with telling someone to eat shit and die. It's not the best problem solving method in life, but man, does it feel good! Second of all, I think these answers teach the assholes a lesson. It teaches them that they cannot coerce their way through life and that people can see through their bullshit and recognize just how unattractive it is.

Now I'd like to share a story of one of my first, and most satisfying experiences in being a jerk. Last Halloween I was working late night at the Burrito when a large group (about 10 people) of very drunk, and very young, college students came in. It was probably around midnight at the time and they were all in costume. They all proceeded to use the restroom and not purchase any food. When they had all used the restroom, they decided to sit at one of our tables and have a very loud conversation for 20 minutes (without purchasing anything from us). Towards the end of their non-burrito, Burrito foray, one particularly annoying woman dressed head-to-toe in a gold leotard with large-rimmed black glasses (obvious American Apparel/Hipster/Douchebag wear) approached the counter and yelled at me, "Hey burrito boy!"

"Yes miss?"

"Is that shirt you're wearing American Apparel?" (I was wearing a deep-V American Apparel t-shirt at the time from my favorite pub, London Underground [212 Main Street, Ames, IA])

"Why yes, miss, it is."

"Everything I'm wearing right now is from American Apparel! Guess what I am?" she exclaimed.

I took a second to ponder her possible costume choices, and I responded: "A giant douche?"

Well, needless to say, the woman was enraged. But, in my defense, what other costume possibility could that be? A member of the Special Olympics gymnastic team? A C-minus student? A huge disappointment to her parents?

The woman yelled a number of obscenities at me, tried to get behind the counter to punch me, and proceeded to tell all of her male friends what I had said to try to get them to hurt me (each one of them laughed when she told them what I had said). She continued to yell at me and curse me as harshly as she could "NO TIPS FOR YOU! NO TIPS FOR YOU!" as her friends dragged her out of the restaurant.

This interaction was extremely satisfying for me.

Try it for yourself sometime! I promise you won't be disappointed!

That's all for now, Lieblings, it's already been a long day and my allergies are acting up. Love you all!


  1. Did you ever find out what she was really supposed to be for Halloween?

  2. I don't really agree with your generalizations here Clayton but was entertained none the less...