The setting: Zion National Park, Utah, 2004. Mike, Nat, Jenya, and I just finished the grueling (but beautiful) two-day backpacking trek down the Narrows. We re-entered the main part of the park surprised to find all the flags at half-mast. We were also completely starving and desperately needed protein.
We drove into town and hit one of the burger joints. It was a seat-yourself deal so we snagged a table. Another party entered after us and claimed the next open table. They were given water, menus, and even ordered drinks and appetizers before we were even acknowledged by the wait staff. I tried to be an understanding adult but after 10 minutes I got so pissed off from the raging hunger, the exhaustion, and the unfair neglect that I stormed up to the bin in front to grab my own damn menus and get the meal process started already.
One of the hippie waiters caught this and beat me to the menu bin. He looked at me with this fucking smug “calm down city boy” expression written all over his bearded face. My impatience was obvious – he smirked and actually said, “Zion Narrows, brother” in order to Zen me out or something.
I don’t think this guy realized how close I was to punching his lights out. I was apoplectic and speechless. But he held up the menus, I snatched up them from his hands and returned to the table completely livid but at least one step closer to burgers-in-my-face.
Eventually another waiter checked in with us and took our orders. We asked him why the flags were all at half-mast. The best he could do was, “Uh, I think it means somebody important died. Maybe a park ranger?” Nice try. Later a fellow patron at a nearby table who overheard this exchange turned our way and said, “Ronald Reagan.”
We were all, like, “Oh.” They shrugged, and we shrugged in agreement. Yup. Whatever.