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March 2021 Issue [Readings]

Chipotle Misérables


From the notebook of an editor at the New York Post who interviewed Melvin Paulino, an employee at a Chipotle restaurant in New York City, in December. Interpreted on-site from the Spanish.

Six months ago the problems with the rats started. The first thing we noticed was that they really liked avocados. They were gnawing their way into boxes and taking bites out of them. I was disgusted, we were all disgusted. The manager would tell us to throw away any boxes the rats had gotten into, but after a while it got to the point where they would just tell us to throw away avocados that had been eaten and save the rest of them. We had to start putting the avocados in the cooler so the rats couldn’t get at them. Things carried on like that for about two months. We were always talking about how crazy the situation was while we were in the back doing prep. We were scared of going to work every day. We were panicked. Nobody wanted to touch any boxes. Some people even refused to go downstairs. Sometimes the rats would appear and we would have to chase them. We were always trying to kill them. Sometimes you could catch them. Sometimes you couldn’t. I did manage to kill one of the rats by stomping on it, and I had to throw out a bunch of them that my co-workers had killed. I felt terrible about what was happening. We were all scared. My co-workers would just start screaming out of the blue and you wouldn’t know what was happening. It was chaos. My manager said to give the hospital bills to them and Chipotle will pay.

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March 2021

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