A gunman wearing a skeleton mask strolled into Washman Carwash in Portland on Dec. 13 and confronted employee Chris B. Truax.
"Give me your money!" Truax remembers the man saying, producing what looked like a handgun. The weapon broke, Truax said, and the gunman stuck it back in his waistband.
Aha, Truax remembers thinking, a fake - emboldening him to lead the robber to the till in the car wash's tunnel.
The gunman ordered Truax, 25, to fill a bag with cash. Truax stepped away. The robber grabbed for the cash.
Truax grabbed for the power washer.
"It was like a quick draw," Truax told The Oregonian newspaper.
Pulling the power washer from a pail and aiming it like a rifle, he directed a stream of soapy, lukewarm water at the robber with a force of 2,000 pounds per square inch. The man fled without the money.
"It had to hurt. I promise you that," said Jason Marsh, Truax's assistant manager. "It was brilliant."
The robber remains at large.
Truax's employers gave him two days off with pay, but the police jailed him on a 7-year-old warrant accusing him of driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was released the following night.
"It's about time I took care of it," he said, shrugging.