Horton Hears a Yell…new life lessons Pt 1+2

On Saturday March 15th, my daughter (6), two nephews (2 & 6), mom (65) and me (39) went to IHOP at the pleading of the little people. Turns out they have a coveted “Horton Hears a Who” pancake special that includes carbs (to turn into sugar) and candy sugar (lollipop) and special topping (sugar disguised as yogurt). We reluctantly acquiesced.We were seated and perusing the menu when our waitress took our drink order. Coffee for me, tea for mom, and an unfortunate beverage in honor of the celebrated movie that included sprite and jell-o blobs who-se name I can’t recall.

Shortly thereafter our waitress stood behind me and proceeded, unannounced to lower a carafe of boiling water for tea over my shoulder. Not realizing this was happening I turned around and the waitress spilled this two-cup pot of boiling water down my shirt and into my lap. So I did what any mother, aunt and daughter would in this situation. I jumped up with a yell, and proceeded to try and pull my pants away from the searing flesh of my crotch. (pretty graphic, huh?) Okay, how is this – I jumped up with a yell and proceeded to pull my now saturated pants away from me. Vague yet understood I think? I’m going to stand by the first. This calls for graphic exposition here.

It’s amazing how shock keeps one in a clueless state. Don’t get me wrong, shock is definitely helpful. Had I not been in shock I may have ripped off my clothes and created an entirely different scene. At least I would have gotten the medical attention I required. In this case however my mom was in shock too. Once my clothing cooled down I realized I couldn’t get comfortable sitting… though I assumed it was because my clothing was soaking wet. My mom suggested I go to the doctor… and I said why… I’m not going to sue anyone. (”Maybe you should check to see if you are seriously burned“a not shock-ed person might have suggested.) But there I was, sitting in my wet clothes, starting to feel pain in my “underneath” suggesting we call Norm, (mom’s husband) to drive over a change of clothes while we consider the menu options while the waitress implies that had I not moved, this wouldn’t have happened.

So, should I cut to the chase or is this worthy of details?? How about I’ll continue on with the details…and if you find this tedious… you can skip to the end which summarized all that I’m about to say. Great… everyone is happy.

Of course the managerial staff was over in a jiffy offering that my meal would be free.. small consolation to say they least. I was looking at the menu apathetically as the waitress once again lowered a pot of boiling water over my shoulder, this time announcing “Be careful with this one.” I was clear enough to realize how in appropriate this statement was. And the manager was back offering my mom’s meal gratis. Forget the free meals! How about some basic first aid!

Had we not been sitting with the kids we would have gotten up an left the scene immediately. But they had ordered their Horton sugar specials and were anxiously awaiting its arrival and my shock was keeping me from any serious decision making.

It’s amazing how protective it can be for the body to shut down… yet rather immobilizing as well. We called the manager to watch the children while Mom and I went to the bathroom to get a closer look. She thought she saw blistering, but wasn’t sure. And the shock… no decision making continues.

So Norm (step-father) arrives with a change of clothes and I finally realized that I wanted to go home to get some ice. Considering the personal nature of the injury…it seemed like the most private option. I wasn’t thinking clearly yet, but I could feel what might be pain start to kick in. Helping Madeline cope with what she just witnessed had not even entered my radar yet. She was in her own shock and I hadn’t completely realized what happened myself. So Norm comes and takes my place. I leave and start to drive home. Feeling something that is getting closer to pain, I call my husband who is in Denver at a conference. He is the voice of reason and concern and guides me to my Dr.’s office which is on my way home.

After about an hour of standing (sitting isn’t an option anymore) in my Dr.’s waiting room (another story!) my mom came to comfort and assist (thankfully!) …and I’m brought to the back where we wait another 30 minutes before I’m given an ice pack. The nurse setting me up inquires location and then says “you were burned on your booty?” (That expression has risen from its rap slang origins, to the elementary school sect and now to medicine!) 15 minutes later and the doctor comes to see me. She confirms that I have 2nd degree burns on my upper-upper legs (really my booty) and a 1st degree burn on my breast. Prescribes Vicadin and Silvidine cream and I’m off and gingerly limping.

Feeling more pain…and wondering how Madeline is dealing. She’s off watching the Horton movie with her cousins. It’s day two of the release and she is already on her second viewing. The marketing has paid off big in this house…and we have surrendered!

It was a day later that I realized what went wrong at IHOP.

Learned: Don’t expect IHOP (at least the Bloomfield, NJ IHOP on Broad Street) to know basic first aid, care about the community they rely on, or to take the high road when responding to a potentially serious injury on their premises.
Injury Status on Day 2
Dressing blistered wounds in places I can’t reach by myself. Treating with Silvidine cream. Unable to wear anything but loose cotton pants. (no chafing undergarments!)

After a 24 hours of thinking, I realized that someone should have offered me some sort of first aid. Now granted, where I was injured was not visible to the people around me. It wasn’t too hard to see the burns on my breast…but I wasn’t showing to the wait staff. I reserved that view for my mom and me. If my husband was there, he would have been managing the scenario, getting me ice, calming the children… he would have instigated our immediate departure I’m sure. He’s good like that.
As I considered the response I wondered why there was no one available to help me through my shock to get treatment for the burns. Couldn’t someone have pulled me aside to ask how I was? Maybe someone could have spilled ice water in my lap.
I’ve subsequently learned that a burn continues to burn until it is stopped. Never an issue when I’m at home. Burn your finger and open the freezer for a boo boo bunny ice pack. Of course it was much more complicated here.. but is it unreasonable to expect in a place that serves hot liquid for them to be prepared to help their patrons with basic first aid? Apparently all IHOP is capable of is offering free meals and blaming you for the accident. The waitress did that very well. But I forgive her. Had she been trained properly she wouldn’t have been trying to place boiling water over my head. I never heard her say that she was doing so… it was a crowded restaurant- maybe she did. Even so, if she had alerted me, it was before I turned that she began to put the water on the table. Had she been placing the water at the end of the table, over no one’s shoulder- this wouldn’t have happened.
So, I wrote a lengthy letter to the Owner of the restaurant explaining to him that he needs to better train his employees or this would likely happen again. Along those lines, putting a first aid plan to use would be critical to properly respond to these accidents when they do happen. I also include my $50 plus in copayments for the dr. visit, the Rxs, and first aid supplies. (view IHOP initial letter)
Apparently that isn’t the practice at this particular IHOP. In fact, the opposite is true.
I wrote out this letter, detailing the circumstance and describing how they might learn from it to improve their service, and protect the community that they rely on. I then proceeded to look for the corporate address so that I could cc. the headquarters. In doing so, I filled out a form on their website accordingly:

comments = I have a letter that details my experience that resulted in medical attention and longer term recovery. I have a certified letter will be sent to the Broad Street address, and I need the appropriate corporate address to send it to as well. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated. Amy Gurowitz

And then.. an expected polite return letter from corporate:

Dear Ms. Gurowitz:

Thank you for contacting us about your unpleasant experience during your recent visit at the IHOP in Bloomfield. Our reputation has been built on top standards of quality food, friendly service and clean atmosphere. Whenever there is a variance from this, we appreciate knowing about it.

We are sorry to hear of the injury you encountered at this location. We have forwarded your information to IHOP’s Franchise Business Consultant for the North region so that he can alert the franchise owner of your experience. It is my expectation that the franchise owner or his representative will investigate this situation and will be contacting you shortly.

It is our hope that you will allow us the opportunity to once again earn your trust. We appreciate the time and effort you took to share this information with us and we thank you for your patronage.


Don Miller
Guest Services Representative
IHOP Restaurant Support Center

But what came next absolute blew me away. More specifically – it infuriated me. Mr Don Miller suggested I would be a referred to the Franchise Business consultant of the North and s/he would contact the owner of Broad St. Bloomfield IHOP, who came back with this:

Dear Amy,

Thank you for contacting IHOP about your experience here. Regarding your visit on march 15th: Please take note, we have statements from the 2 tables surrounding your party. Each one clearly noted that your actions caused the incident you are referring to. If you would like to pursue further action that is certainly your right, however, be advised, we pursue fraudulent claims to the fullest extent of the law.

Thank you. Cliff Gennarelli – Owner, Bookdale IHOP.

Are you serious! Not only did they not apologize, they blamed me for the incident! This community restaurant that draws in our children with promotional sugar pancakes, poorly trains their staff to serve boiling hot beverages, has no first aid response in place… and then blames the victim for entire thing.

more later…

One thought on “Horton Hears a Yell…new life lessons Pt 1+2

  1. Alex says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s