I threw up in Chipotle and they still made me pay for guac


by Lucas Trevor

This was my lowest moment as a student at American University. I don’t want to tell this story, but I need to tell this story. I even thought about putting this out anonymously. My editor said it was ultimately up to me if I wanted to publish but here it is: the time I threw up in the Adams Morgan Chipotle — with all the gritty minutia, all the intricate details.

Like most great epics it all started with a choice, a life-changing decision thrust me forward into a world of uncertainty. In Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell breaks down the “hero’s journey,” a common path that many mythical heroes follow in order to achieve their final goal. This structure is heavily utilized in the mythology of the Star Wars universe, and classic literature, like The Odyssey, and Shakespeare's Henry V. In order for any great hero to achieve their goal they must first decide to move forward and cross the threshold. I went with a burrito bowl, for ease of reheating and overall mixability.

“White or brown rice… black or pinto?” The Chipotle employee’s tone was pure arrogance. The underpaid stoner felt like he was better than me, I could see it in his eyes, the way he talked. This child, this half-man, was gonna address me like that? I am a proud American University student. I am a Wonk. I refuse to let this high school student who probably couldn’t even name every house member in alphabetical order, talk to me like this.

Then came the choice of meat. First off, I always add-in extra veggies — they’re free and bring up the total quantity of food being purchased. It’s not a big difference, but it makes me feel like I earned it. (Feel free to use this #protip next time you’re at a Chipotle.)

You might be wondering, why was I eating at a Chipotle on a Thursday night? Well, I had just been stood up by a first real date in six weeks, and I was feeling a little down. I certainly couldn’t stay at the restaurant where the peak of my shame had occurred. Instead, the waiter suggested that rather than paying too much for a lonely meal for one, I could just go to Chipotle and pay much less for a lonely meal for one. Plus I could take that one home and eat it while I watched one of two Fyre Festival documentaries available to stream right now.

(Campbell would call this meeting “the mentor”.)

So I chose chicken. It’s a leaner meat, and right now I’m trying to slim down. I’m for sure not trying to like “cut weight,” just trim down in the run up to the summer. I have not started hitting the gym yet, just kind of being more aware of what I’m putting in my body. I found that just recognizing that much goes a long way to getting the body you want. You really don’t have to like count calories for every meal, just be aware and make smart choices. Instead of two pieces of pizza go with a slice and a side salad.

This is where the story gets really crazy.

I had been feeling bad for a couple of days now. I don’t wanna say sick per se, but like my tummy hurt. I’d taken all the necessary steps to prevent any actual sickness, multiple nap days, DayQuil before class, tums with every meal etc. However, it seemed like tonight would be the culmination of that general unwellness. To put it briefly, my stomach was not feeling stellar at that moment.

I don’t want to be gross, put I projectile vomited all over that clear Chipotle glass. I’m like 95% sure it didn’t get it on any of my food. Most of the customers left after that, but I still wanted my bowl. I turned to Jeremy (the guy behind the counter).

I said, “Jeremy, can you add in guac to that?.”

He said, “You’re still gonna eat this?”

I leaned over the now vomit smeared barrier: “Of course, it was gonna mix around in my stomach anyway, what’s the difference if I get a little before it goes down?”

So as Jeremy rang me up, I noticed he added in the cost of the guac. An extra $1.95. Usually, I’m totally fine with paying for that sweet sweet creamy green. It adds a cooling flavor and vitally improves mouthfeel. I also think that it is more effective than sour cream at cutting the heat of Tabasco. However, I had just vomited. They should not be forcing me to pay extra when my experience in this establishment was so traumatizing and disturbing I literally vomited.

My pleas went unanswered. I paid for the guac and left ashamed and distraught. The reward had not been attained, and I returned to the known world no different, just broken.

I had failed Joseph Campbell.