Originally published August 31, 2016 – I’m eating dinner at Big Al’s Hamburgers at the Junction, in Kaban, UT, after a full day of hiking and photography, including a trip to Horseshoe Bend, pictured above.
Big Al’s is a throwback, the kind of local restaurant every town in middle America used to have. Whether it’s named Ye Olde Malt Shoppe, The Max, or Al’s Drive In, every small town had one of these. Sadly, most are now gone, overtaken by Arches, Kings, and Castles.
But Big Al’s endures, with it’s menu of burgers, dogs, fries, and shakes. As I’m spooning down my raspberry shake (too thick to sip), the place is taken over by a flock of high school kids. Makes sense, since it’s mostly staffed by teenagers.
The kids are talking about the usual, but then one of them mentions something unusual: there’s a nickel in the toilet in the men’s restroom. Much discussion ensues about why the nickel won’t flush, and how long it’s been in there (everyone agrees at least a week). The girl who works there even mentions someone sending her a SnapChat of the famous nickel.
They keep talking, and I finish my shake.
Since it’s 74 miles back to Page, AZ, where I’m spending the night, I figure a pit stop is in order. I head to the men’s room, which has only a toilet.
Sure enough, there’s a nickel in the toilet.
As I’m washing my hands, an idea occurs to me. I frantically search my pockets – pennies, quarters, a dime – yes! One nickel.
I turn the tap back on, and soak the nickel. And my right hand.
Dripping water, I leave the bathroom. The teenage girl at the counter looks my way, sees me leaving the bathroom, then looks away.
I walk over to her, standing behind the stainless steel counter, and I lean over it, and SLAP! that nickel down on the counter. Water splashes across the counter, some drops hitting her. I let go of the nickel, and slide my hand back to my side of the counter, leaving a wet trail.
She looks at me, as though I am very odd.
I look down at the nickel, look up at her, and say, “I took care of that – and here I made air quotes, with water dripping from my right hand – “plumbing problem”.
She looks at me uncomprehendingly, then I see her start to get it. I wink at her, turn, and walk from the building. As the door closes behind me, I hear her scream “Oh MY GAWD! GRRRRRRrrooooooos!”
I climb in my car, and leave the fine citizens of Kaban behind.
I laughed the whole way back.
That’s the most fun I’ve ever had for a nickel.