Chipotle doesn’t care about the stigma of OCD

by Cody Dolan on July 27, 2010 · 6 comments

in obsessive-compulsive,stigma

Recently a coworker went to Chipotle Mexican Grill for lunch. She came back with some righteous fury to go along with her burrito. “How can a company that advertises they do everything the right way put out a bag like this?!” she wondered. So I took a picture of that bag with my phone. (Here’s where you marvel at how well I framed a shot of a paper sack on my desk: You can’t even see the piles upon piles of paper work!)

What about customers with OCD?

Chipotle claims to use “naturally raised” meat, meaning the animals that will become our lunch and dinner are fed vegetarian diets and are never given antibiotics. Raising them this way makes for “happier, healthier” livestock that produces the BEST MEAT EVER. The healthier I’ll buy, but happier? I’m not so sure about that: 1) I’m pretty sure a pig’s mindset has nothing to do with the way my bacon tastes in the morning and 2) I’m pretty sure that they way their lives end is anything but happy.

Where’s the “advertising with integrity?”

But I digress. My point is Chipotle thinks that it actually means something when they advertise “Food with Integrity.” But what about the people who eat that food? Shouldn’t Chipotle care about them at least as much the livestock slaughtered to serve the company’s goals?

Well, according to Chipotle, it’s perfectly OK to make fun of them if they have a mental illness. Look at that bag again. It seems to be written from the viewpoint of a Chipotle employee because it talks about making sure the onions are perfectly diced. I’m all for that, I guess, but I’m not a huge fan of what else is on the bag:

“So maybe I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, but I don’t think it qualifies me as obsessive. It’s not like I’m spending all day counting beans & washing my hands with steel wool.

Did that bag just say what I think it said? Surely it didn’t just make light of a serious mental illness, one that can have debilitating effects. Let me read it again.

Nope, I was right the first time. The bottom of the bag reads, “So maybe I am a little obsessive.  But if being certifiably crazy about the way I make food makes it taste as good as it does, I don’t wanna be sane.” Just…wow. Maybe Chipotle should think twice before disparaging the good people who patronize their restaurants. Unless, of course, insulting patrons by using “obsessive” and “crazy” so flippantly is a big part of their corporate culture.

Just the facts

Folks, let me drop some knowledge on you. I know, I know, you don’t read my posts to learn anything. I’m right there with you. But I think this issue needs some context.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts, obsessions or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Typical obsessions include fear of dirt or contamination, fear of acting on violent or aggressive impulses and concern with order or symmetry. Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away.

Read that again: People with OCD keep performing the same tasks, over and over and over again, in the vain hope that they won’t have to keep performing them. They’re looking for peace, for a way to quiet a mind that won’t let them move on, not the perfect way to chop onions.

Imagine spending hours organizing your desk or kitchen or garage or any place in your everyday life that is usually cluttered. You step back to admire your handiwork, only to see a few places where items aren’t in a perfect row or that your tools aren’t organized by size quite as perfectly as you thought they were. So you start the process all over again, even though you want nothing more than to stop and eat or drink or use the restroom. Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?

OCD is the fourth most common neuropsychiatric illness in the United States, affecting nearly five million people in the U.S. each year. One in 40 adults and one in 200 children suffer from OCD at some point in their lives. Up to 30 percent of patients treated in outpatient settings fail to respond to treatment. A structured inpatient setting is often necessary for the individual to progress and effectively learn to manage their OCD.

These numbers should tell you how serious OCD is. We see the disorder used in humorous ways quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean the condition is a joke. Sure, Tony Shaloub is great on Monk and that show is supposed to be funny, but I recall there are quite a few instances in which the character’s OCD gets in the way of living his life.

Seriously, folks

Should you be upset? Would you find it offensive if the bag said something like “If I can’t dice those onions perfectly, I may just have to kill myself?” Would “I’m retarded about putting together the perfect salsa” bother you?  How about “I wouldn’t say my obsession with perfectionism qualifies me for the short bus?”

In one silly, inconsequential promotional item, Chipotle has made a joke of a disease that many people struggle with everyday, one that will sometimes lead them to be hospitalized.  Chipotle’s turned Jack Nicholson’s nuanced character from As Good As It Gets into two lines on a brown paper bag, and they should be ashamed.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Andres April 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

People like you have ruined what once was a fantastic country. Perhapse if we all focused on real issues instead of everyone’s feelings not getting hurt we would be in a better position

TacoDave May 18, 2011 at 1:31 am

I HAVE OCD and I think you’re full of crap. Grow some thicker skin!

Joe August 2, 2010 at 9:44 am

I completely agree. I read this on my bag from last night and was shocked. And now I’m kind of shocked that this was the only mention of the bag I could find on the internet. I expected more people to be upset. Perhaps this bag was only recently produced.

Teresa July 30, 2010 at 11:02 pm

At first a felt like the author was being slightly too sensitive about the writing on the Chipotle bag. Then I reached the end of the article in which he states,

“Would you find it offensive if the bag said something like “If I can’t dice those onions perfectly, I may just have to kill myself?” Would “I’m retarded about putting together the perfect salsa” bother you? How about “I wouldn’t say my obsession with perfectionism qualifies me for the short bus?”

It was at this point that I was in total agreement with him. If the bag had any of the other phrases I would be boycotting the company indefinitely. What I didn’t want to admit to myself is that I am guilty of using phrases that minimize OCD. After reading this article, I have been made to see that I am belittling a serious condition and making it easier for others see it in less serious light, too.

Maggie July 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm

For a company that boasts social responsibility this is highly disappointing.

Mary Catherine July 28, 2010 at 8:14 am

Great post Cody! I agree completely!

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