Vicky Albert only looked away for a second. But that’s all it took for her daughter to grab something off the changing table and put it in her mouth.
As the Mirror reports, the 27-year-old mom from Essex, England was out doing some Christmas shopping with her husband, Ryan, and 10-month-old daughter, Amiyah when they decided to stop for coffee.
The family went into an Essex Starbucks, and Vicky headed to the bathroom to change Amiyah’s diaper. After putting down the changing mat and sitting Amiyah on the changing table, Vicky reached for a diaper. That’s when Amiyah managed to grab something that had been left behind. Vicky told the Mirror:
“I went into the changing facilities which was just a disabled toilet with a baby change table. I put down my changing mat and as I supported Amiyah, I leant over to get the baby wipes and a nappy. As soon as I grabbed them I saw her chomping on something.”
The mom tried to fish the substance out of her daughter’s mouth, but it was too late. While trying to figure out what had happened, Vicky took another look at the changing table. To her horror, she realized that someone had left scattered bits of marijuana behind.
Vicky told the Mirror:
“There was something green in her mouth and as I prised her mouth open, she swallowed it. I then lifted up the changing mat and noticed loads of little bits of weed and tobacco on the table. I panicked and screamed out for my husband and said ‘Is that what I think it is?'”
The response from the Starbucks employees was less than ideal. Ryan argued with staff members about the issue and was told that the store’s three employees had been overwhelmed that day. One of the baristas reportedly told him, “If you’re that concerned, why aren’t you taking her to the hospital?”
Vicky told the Mirror that at least one disgusted customer left the store after hearing what happened:
“I went to speak to the staff at the counter who were so rude, they didn’t even apologize and just rushed in there to clean it up and another staff member said, ‘She should watch where she puts her baby.'”
The family did call emergency services after realizing that Amiyah had ingested cannabis. When the toddler began throwing up, her parents took her to the hospital. Vicky told the Mirror that they spent six hours there, but Amiyah seems to be okay now:
“Her belly is a bit irritated and we are keeping an eye on her. We think she will be fine but I cannot believe how we were treated.”
According to Children’s Hospital Colorado, ingestion of marijuana can lead to a more severe form of marijuana intoxication in young children due to their small size. Symptoms include sleepiness, loss of coordination, and difficulty breathing. In rare cases, young children have fallen into a coma and needed a ventilator.
Public changing tables can be a surprisingly commonplace to find illicit substances. One mom recently found a used syringe tucked into a corner of a changing table. Another mom — this one a former addict — warned parents to wipe down changing tables every time, as addicts often use them to shoot up and crush up drugs. She wrote:
See the black marks? Those are from burnt spoons. Addicts use these as tables while they shoot up. There could be residue from heroin/meth whatever, and other harmful bodily fluids. If someone doesn’t care about themselves, I can promise you, they aren’t thinking about your kids. Be cautious.
Starbucks has since apologized to the Albert family for the marijuana in their changing room. A spokeswoman told the Mirror:
“We are very sorry to hear of this customers’ experience in our store and have been in touch with them directly today to apologize and understand what happened whilst we carry out our own investigation. We aim to make our stores a welcoming environment so when our standards have not been met, we act as quickly as we can to make it right.”