Friday, September 12, 2014

‘Would you please hide your pryin’ eyes?’

Chuck Winborn says it was about three months ago when he first noticed something off about the vent on the shower room door at a Flying J in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala.

Winborn, an owner-operator and OOIDA senior member, had pulled into the Flying J Truck Stop off Interstate 65 and Daniel Payne Drive for fuel and a shower, when he discovered a problem with the aluminum vent near the bottom of the shower room door.

“I noticed that the vent in the bottom of the door had been bent so that you could see through into the hallway,” he said. “I got down and looked at the vent closely and could see that the veins in the vent had been forced down where you could clearly see through.”

He said a person standing underneath the shower head wouldn’t be visible to a potential peeping Tom. But an unsuspecting patron on the commode, or walking into or out of the shower opening would be in full view.

“If you held a camera phone down there to the opening, you wouldn’t have to put your face down there to the crack. And somebody could be taking pictures and doing God knows what with them,” he said.
Winborn said he walked down the hallway and inspected the other shower doors, finding at least six out of the 14 in a similar condition. He said he alerted the manager, and also phoned Pilot/Flying J’s corporate office, hoping to get a fix on it.

And then he waited. And waited.

“After three or four weeks I went back and found that the vents had been removed and turned upside down, placing the open gap closer to the bottom of the door but (someone) still being able to see through the door,” he said.

Winborn said he brought this to the manager’s attention again, who assured him it was “just a temporary fix.”

“It’s been approximately three months now, and it has still yet to be properly fixed,” he said. “During this time frame, that same Flying J has completely torn out both the front and rear public restrooms for remodeling and finished them.”

Fed up with waiting, Winborn called OOIDA then sent Land Line an email about the situation, and included some photos he’d taken of the vents in question.

“I just don’t understand. They’re building Pilot fuel stops all the time. They couldn’t have a set of grates shipped up here to fix this? It just doesn’t seem important,” he said. “My concern is for the female drivers or even the male drivers that may not even notice this peep hole or what pervert may be looking or possibly even taking pictures through these holes.”

We reached out to Pilot/Flying J’s corporate offices this week, and got a response today from communications manager Anne LeZotte. She said the company has purchased new vents “to ensure no gaps exist other than the manufacturer-specified gaps” that allow proper ventilation. The new hardware is expected to be installed early next week. She said Pilot is also “researching other precautionary measures.”

“Pilot Flying J takes customer concerns very seriously,” she said in an emailed statement. “The safety and privacy of our customers and employees are top priorities at Pilot Flying J. We appreciate this customer bringing his concerns to our attention, so we could remedy the situation.”

We’ll be keeping an eye on the shower room doors until they get fixed.