Like most people my age, I freaking love Chipotle. Sure, I switch it up every now and then with my local burrito establishment, but often when it's lunchtime and I'm thinking about what I want to eat, my internal hunger monitor just screams out, "CHIPOTLE, you want CHIPOTLE!" A Chipotle salad with some rice, chicken, corn, and guac, duh. But, well, guys, I live in the Northwest. And thanks to an E. Coli outbreak, most of the Northwest Chipotle restaurants are closed right now — including mine.
This weekend, 43 Chipotles in Washington and Oregon closed because — as of Tuesday — at least 37 people have become ill. Chipotle stepped up and closed the restaurants, even though the vast majority of these restaurants had no issues, just out of an abundance of caution. But in a news conference Tuesday, Dr. Kathy Lofy, a Washington state health officer, said anyone who ate at Chipotle between Oct. 1 and when the restaurants closed could be at risk. Did I eat at my local Chipotle in the last month? Um, yes, absolutely. Multiple times. Luckily, though, no illnesses have been reported in my county.
But, it's safe to say I have a lot of feelings about this situation right now, the strongest of which is definitely missing Chipotle. If you live in the Northwest, too, here's a little breakdown of what you might be going through. Everyone else, please don't laugh in our misery.
When I first heard the news, let's be real — I thought, "Holy shit." It's always surprising when you hear about recalls of food you buy sometimes or possible bacterial contamination at a restaurant nine states away, but when it's somewhere you frequent and it's your OWN local establishment that's closed, it's a little more shocking.
I chatted about it with my friends, and we all commiserated in our disbelief.
Then I started thinking about how much I'd miss it. Chipotle, like certain members of The Walking Dead, is at least a once-weekly part of my life. This was a huge blow.
E. Coli can be nasty, bringing symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or respiratory problems. And as TIME pointed out, it's not Chipotle's first outbreak, having seen salmonella, norovirus, and hepatitis A in certain restaurants over the years. Obviously, Chipotle dealt with the situations quickly, but it's still a little scary.
But TIME also pointed out, that it's not like this is the first major chain to suffer from a foodborne outbreak. It happened to Blue Bell, which took responsibility and shuttered its doors until it was sure all its desserts were safe. Chipotle will make everything safe again. And there were no illnesses even reported in my county! They were in western Washington, and I'm in eastern Washington! Slowly, I began to rationalize why this isn't a big deal enough deal to warrant me ending my Chipotle relationship.
I rationalized so much, I forgot it was closed. "I'm going to get Chipotle for lunch today!" I thought to myself when heading to work Tuesday morning. Remembering it was closed was devastating.
So then I start thinking, "Should I just drive to Idaho? Actually, the one in Montana is closer. It's only three hours." I'm trying to find a way, any way that I can get my Chipotle fix. Then I start shaming myself for even caring about Chipotle so much. Just go to the Qdoba down the road, I told myself, or be a good local resident and go get a burrito from your other fave spot. But I settled for Japanese food instead.
At this point, we're on the road to acceptance. I've fully reprimanded myself for worrying so much about a chain restaurant, but also reminded myself that it has to reopen at some point.
But do you realize how long the line is going to be once it does reopen? Sigh.
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