Burritos, as we all know, serve an important function in a well-rounded individuals diet. A well-made large burrito can sustain a grown human for most of an entire day. The right burrito can make the perfect lunch before an important afternoon, or with some topping adjustments can become the precursor for an epic nap. In a pinch, when there’s no time to get home after work or sit down for a proper dinner, a burrito can lay the perfect foundation for a night out and, of course, a big, sloppy post-last-call burrito can be the ultimate way to cap off a night of drinking to soak up some of the beer in your belly.
If you live in an urban setting for any length of time, you will naturally develop habits related to how, where, and when you secure and consume good burritos. It is also only natural that you will develop strong opinions about the burrito-based businesses in and around the areas you live and work and, if you are anything like me, you will make important social and meal-planning decisions based on the geography of your preferred burrito spots.
During my time living in Toronto, burrito options were myriad. There was Big Fat Burrito, Fat Bastard, Burro Burrito, and Chino Locos. The real burrito fans knew Burrito Boyz and Burrito Banditos existed because the co-founders of Burrito Boyz had a falling out and one of them went to do his own thing and so the two businesses ended up being basically the same thing (but you probably still had an opinion on which is better). You probably also knew it was always worth it for guac, you know you should always get a little spice, but a full line is a little much, and you also knew that anyone who recommended a burrito from z-teca or Chipotle didn’t know shit about shit. Back in my day, I had a go-to burrito spot near my home, a favourite burrito spot near my office, and even a favourite burrito spot near the place I hosted a comedy show virtually every Friday evening for three years. Shout out to The Second City Training Centre bathroom for weekly and epic pre-show dumps.
And so when I moved back to London from Toronto, I was happy to learn that Burrito Boyz had opened here in the Forest City in 2013 as it meant I’d get to enjoy at least one of the culinary delights I’d come to appreciate in the big smoke.
When I started a contract position doing communications and brand work at a local college here, however, it was with mixed feelings that I learned the college was nowhere near a Burrito Boyz and instead was across the street from barBURRITO. I was happy for proximity to lunchtime burritos, but barBURRITO is essentially the RC Cola of burrito places. It’ll do in a pinch but it’s literally no one’s first choice.
Nevertheless, barBURRITO became my go-to lunch place when weather permitted the short walk and I enjoyed many, many pretty decent burritos during my short tenure working in the area. So when my last day of work came, my choice for a farewell lunch was clear and I dutifully lined up for one last burrito and prepared myself for my goodbyes with the owners I’d come to know ordering so many lunches.
As I took my warm, foil-wrapped burrito and paid for my lunch, I let them know that this would likely be my last time in since I’d no longer be working across the street. I remember they reacted with something akin to a subdued, “Oh no,” which I took to be the team simply putting on a brave face in light of losing their favouirte regular customer. After months supporting this business, even opting to line up for a burrito instead of just grabbing a shawarma from the place that shared space with them and often had no line at all, I imagine I occupied a special place in their hearts. I think the word “hero” gets bandied about a little too much, but given how often I’d supported the business — sometimes even venturing to cross the street in the rain — I wouldn’t have flinched if they’d asked me to pose for a quick picture or sign anything.
But then the owner handed me something.
A personal phone number for burrito emergencies perhaps? A VIP card for discounted burritos at any barBURRITO location Canada-wide?
He had handed me a loyalty card.
It was the kind of card where you can collect a stamp every time you order a burrito, and after ten stamps, you can get a free burrito. This is what he handed me after months of loyal service and many burritos purchased. I had no idea they offered such a thing. The card had one stamp on it, to mark the burrito I had just purchased.
Thanks so much.