“Chili Fingers” at Wendy’s

One of the challenges of writing a weekly column is to continually come up with fresh ideas.  As soon as I’ve submitted my regular Sunday blog it’s time to start looking for a topic for the next week.  It never takes long.  This week the inspiration came Monday morning courtesy of ABC News’ Good Morning America.

On television was Anna Ayala, complete with her lawyer Jeffrey Janoff, discussing the human finger that she found in her bowl of chili at a Wendy’s restaurant in San Jose, C.A.  Ayala claims that the 1.5-inch finger was in her mouth before she realized what it was.  Just to spruce up the breakfast coverage, a photo of the fingertip appeared several times during the story.  If you want to see for yourself go to:  http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=612142   Just don’t do it while eating!

The finger didn’t come from the hand of a restaurant employee.  All of the Wendy’s workers passed the “10 finger” test with flying colors.   Joy Alexiou, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Health Department said that the finger was well cooked, eliminating any health risk.  The digit tip apparently entered the chili at some part of the manufacturing process.  A Wendy’s spokesman reported that there were “no reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of injuries at any supplier of chili ingredients to Wendy’s.”

As the search for the source of the infamous “chili finger” continues, there is no question that having a human finger in your mouth would be an unsettling experience.  The fact that the finger presented no health risk would have been little consolation for this gastronomic displeasure.  Ms. Ayala purportedly vomited.  Who can blame her.

Any red-blooded American can see where this one is going.  Ayala and Janoff were on screen for about 3 minutes.  Ayala had tears in her eyes and her lips trembled as she described the experience.  If the volume had been turned down and you could just look at her face and body language you would have no doubt that she had been abducted and molested by space aliens!  No one knows how much money her opportunistic lawyer is going to sue Wendy’s for, but it isn’t going to be pretty.  Janoff is quoted as saying, “…obviously, something slipped through, to put it lightly. And this is a strict liability type of case. It is a product liability case, and a consumer doesn’t expect to find body parts in their food.”

I know that this meal was not pleasant for the woman, but if I were the judge she and Janoff would have to settle for the cost of a medical check-up and $500 for “pain and suffering”.  Wendy’s probably suffered more than the Ayala.  Despite the fact that Wendy’s probably had no direct involvement in this finger caper, Wendy’s sales in northern California slipped sharply after the incident, although the sales decline is expected to be temporary.

Come to think of it, if Ayala would fire her lawyer and negotiate directly with Wendy’s she could probably get a lifetime food card good at any Wendy’s worldwide.  In addition, she’s got bragging rights for life.  Who wouldn’t want to tell the one about how “I found a finger in my chili at Wendy’s!”  On second thought, maybe Wendy’s shouldn’t offer Ayala a free food card.  She might over indulge and gain weight.  Then, Janoff to the rescue, we’d have another lawsuit!

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