Northwest NEWS

April 10, 2000


A child's emergency should come before store's policy

   I am writing this letter to inform people of an incident that happened to my three-year-old son and me.

   On Friday, March 24, just after lunch while in downtown Woodinville, my son started screaming. He had something in his eyes and was trying to get it out. Well, I knew that I had to pull over immediately, so I took my first available turn and pulled my screaming son out of the car, knowing that I needed to flush his eyes with water. I ran to the closest shop.

   An employee met me as I opened the door. I asked the young girl if there was a bathroom I could use (knowing full well that there is one). She told me it was for patrons only. I quickly told her that I have been a patron there before, but that my son needed attention now.

   She again declined to let me use the facilities. By then, I was in a full panic and totally frustrated. I yelled at her saying that I would never eat there again, loud enough that the one and only customer heard me.

   I then ran next door, where I was allowed to use their facilities. Upon returning to my car, I discovered that my son had found an old packet of honey mustard that seemed to have exploded in his hands.

   I then went back to the shop to apologize to the girl for shouting, and asked if I could see the manager, as I felt that the establishment owed me an apology. The manager gave me the same line. She then went on to explain how they had spent a lot of money repairing the bathrooms due to teenagers vandalizing them. I asked her if I looked like one of those teenagers! Well, I was getting nowhere with her, so I asked who the owner of the store was and where I could contact him.

   When the owner finally returned my call later that evening, I told him exactly what had happened. I told him that I had hoped he would have handled the situation differently if he had been there and that all I wanted was an apology. I got nothing--just the same old line about policy.

   I asked him what happened to common human decency and if he had any children. He told me that his shop was not a medical facility and that there was a hospital a few blocks away. I informed him that if I called 911, they most likely (and they did verify this) would have told me to flush his eyes with water and stay put while they came to me. He still would not offer an apology or anything even close to it. That was the end of it.

   The point of my story is this: I am concerned for our community. I would not have expected this to happen anywhere, much less here. We have lived here several years, and my husband is a well-known teacher here; we like the sense of community that we have in Woodinville. Well, that day in that shop, it was non-existent.

   Thankfully, my son's eyesight was not affected and this is the end of the story, but I can't help but feel sad about the situation and for the employees of that shop, as they put policy before a child's needs.

Tina & Dan Sander, Woodinville