A woman in Tennessee had to use the bathroom while she was on the road, and so made a stop at a restaurant nearby.
Called The Flood Zone, the eatery required all non-customers who used the restrooms to pay a fee, according to a posted sign.
Patricia Barnes did not buy anything at the restaurant. She used the restroom and left.
Barnes likely didn’t think it was a big deal, but she found out just how serious the restaurant was about their bathroom policy when they mailed her a letter requesting the $5 from her.
She had no idea how they found her name or address. After several months of investigation, however, it was discovered that a local sheriff assisted the owner in tracking Barnes down by running her license plate information.
Barnes said she felt violated over the ordeal, as she felt it was blown out of proportion and claimed she was given permission to use the bathroom. She was also upset that an officer shared her information with the owner.
“People don’t have the right to just run your tags and give your information out to just anybody,” Barnes said.
Darrell Allison, the sheriff who revealed her information, said it wasn’t a big deal.
“I would say that happens every day. It’s a very common occurrence,” he said. But other authorities in different states say license plate information is only legally meant for law enforcement purposes.
The manager of Flood Zone, Lisa, said, “She was one of these ‘I’m-going-to-do-this-anyway’ kind of people.” She said Barnes came in and pretended she was going to order something, before saying she wanted to wash her hands before she decided. Then, Barnes left without paying the fee.
Barnes has since tried several times to pay the $5, but The Flood Zone is refusing to accept it. They said they were only trying to make a point.