Odyssey for the restroom in small-town America


Often the most interesting and satisfying places found were off the main drag and tucked away (as per usual).

Stopping for lunch at a small diner in Carlin, Nevada, having ordered a burger and fries I headed to the restroom, following the signage above a door.

Through it I found myself in a large, dark and cavernous bar. I walked on slowly, my eyes traversing left to right and back Challenger 2-style, finally finding the restroom of the diner/bar.

Afterwards I couldn’t suss out where the casino happened, but my ordered burger was more of a concern.

Back at the table I noticed the black-and-white photos of Carlin of yesteryear hung on the walls.

The only other customers were a family at another table on the other side of the room.

I munched on as the friendly middle-aged waitress refilled my coffee mug and cup of water, scribbling at a few postcards between bites.

The bill came to under $10. Bargain.

I left thoroughly satisfied, far more so than usually experienced in fancier, pricier places.

Places like Carlin remind me of the America that British journalist Alistair Cooke chronicled in his Letter from America broadcasts, which I’d often hear on a Sunday morning from the radio in the bathroom as my father washed and shaved.

There’s a great broadcast he did about a grandfather taking a boy to a burger joint. He describes the excitement that, in those days, such a trip represented, a hamburger being a great treat.

Having a burger isn’t such a big deal these days. But it’s nice to find places like Carlin where they still do it the old-fashioned way, where a burger feels an investment.

I recently went for my first Shake Shack burger, the signage above the entrance lit up by bright light bulbs and everything looking very snazzy.

It all looked neat, clean and well organised. But I’d rather take a burger in Calvin…