Applebee’s fingertip-in-salad incident: A solid 9 on the ‘ick’ scale

The Applebee’s on Theatre Drive in Paso Robles.
The Applebee’s on Theatre Drive in Paso Robles. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Accidents can happen anywhere, especially in the kitchen, right? Still, it’s hard to imagine how a slice of finger could end up in a restaurant salad. Wouldn’t there have been lots of tell-tale blood?

Yet, as we now know, a smallish slice of finger did indeed end up in a Chinese chicken salad served at Applebee’s in Paso Robles. That triggered a minor media feeding frenzy; reports on the found fingertip showed up in online editions of publications such as Time, ABC News and the L.A. Times, and played into a Stephen Colbert joke: “Who goes to Applebee’s and orders a salad?”

The reaction isn’t a surprise, given our collective appetite for the grossly bizarre. And this incident certainly qualifies, especially because an Atascadero family of three — including a pregnant mom — had been sharing the salad before the finger slice was discovered. On the 1-to-10 scale of ick, we’d give that a 9. (We’d rate finding a condom in a bowl of soup — an alleged real-life incident — a 9.5.)

Reports on the found fingertip showed up in online editions of publications such as Time ... and played into a Stephen Colbert joke: “Who goes to Applebee’s and orders a salad?”

The Atascadero family, by the way, has retained Santa Ana attorney Eric Traut — the same attorney who represented the condom-in-the-soup couple.

As Traut pointed out, the Applebee’s employee did do the right thing by volunteering to undergo medical screening to determine whether the family was at risk. (So far, all medical tests have come back clean.)

Also, Applebee’s has apologized and says it intends to retrain employees on safety protocols to prevent anything like this from happening again. Now that’s a relief!

Still, no bouquets for the Paso Applebee’s — who knows where those flower petals might end up? — but in light of the restaurant’s reasonable response, we’ll put a hold on that large order of brickbats.

No shame in losing at Powerball

In this post-Powerball funk, we offer bouquets of sympathy to all those optimistic San Luis Obispo County folks who bought tickets. Sure, we had a better chance of becoming president than winning the $1.5 billion jackpot, but that didn’t stop us from dreaming. After all, somebody’s got to win, right?

It just wasn’t us … at least not this time.

‘Little old’ pot criminals

Arroyo Grande City Councilman Tim Brown made a compassionate choice when he cast the only vote against the city’s total ban on medical marijuana cultivation. Ditto for his desire that the ban be enforced on a complaint-driven basis, so “the little old woman or the little old man or the person with cancer who’s got a couple of plants” wouldn’t be penalized.

Here’s our problem with that selective enforcement approach: How little is “little”? How old is “old”? And should authorities in Arroyo Grande give a pass to cancer patients but not to glaucoma patients?

Yes, we’re being sticklers; and no, we don’t mean to pick on Councilman Brown, who, if anything, deserves a bouquet for having the courage to vote his convictions. But here’s our positions: Those with a legitimate need for medical marijuana — no matter their age or infirmity — should be allowed to cultivate small amounts for personal use, provided it doesn’t create a nuisance for neighbors.

Even if authorities are willing to look the other way, we’re not OK with turning sick people — whether or not they are “little old women” and “little old men” — into law breakers because they grow small amounts of medical pot. For that, we send Arroyo Grande — and other cities passing similarly harsh restrictions — a fresh crop of brickbats.

What’s your opinion? Let us know at letters@thetribunenews.com. Letters should be no longer than 200 words. Shorter, emailed letters are preferred. Your letter must be signed and include your address and phone number. Writers are limited to one letter a month. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, clarity and taste. All letters become the property of The Tribune.