Travels 20: The Man Who Wept

To: The Department of Late Sightseers to Iconic Places


Well, sir, he’s out of our jurisdiction now.  We monitored his situation carefully and kept him under close watch.  As you know, we had choppers in the air and “unmarks” following him in black vans that had those cool smoked glass windows, and thanks for that, by the way.

Funny thing about the old guy…most of us started taking a liking to him.  I mean he is something of a freeloader, the way he goes into a MacDonald’s and buys a coffee.  But never has anything to eat except those two times he had a chicken salad.  He only goes there to use their free Wi-Fi to post those nutty blogs about his trip.  But, there was something about the guy we began to admire.  Like the way he would slow down in these desert towns to let other RV’s make a turn…or to let an old lady cross the street.  Our hidden mikes picked him up, on these occasions mumbling something about getting indulgences from someone in Rome to make his stay in Purgatory quicker and less painful.  He’s so sure he’s going there, wherever that is.  Isn’t Purgatory in Texas or something?

Anyway, we got him safely to the Observation area on the South Rim, even though he did his best to throw off our tail by pretending to get lost trying to find the RV Park.  I mean, can’t the guy read a map? Or does he rely on MapQuest?

Our agents stayed clear as we let his wife take him around the National Park Visitor Center.  He got his little passport stamped and then headed for the bookstore.  It was like he was delaying his approach to the viewing area.  Like he was avoiding it for some reason.  We thought he was afraid of heights or something but, little by little, his wife led him toward the Rim.  He began to slow down and started to limp, favoring his right leg.  Agents overheard him complaining about the pain in his shin and his lower back.  We only found out later that he is due to get his back operated on in New York City in November.

So, he took the arm of his wife and limped toward the fence at the Rim.  He kept his head lowered and didn’t try to sneak a peak at the view.

This is when a few of the guys started taking bets on whether or not he’d make it to the very edge and look in.  I lost a sawbuck, and Barky, the agent that everyone says looks like a Pug, lost a finback.  Elvis, the agent with the sideburns, put in ten slugs thinking he’d fool us into thinking they were quarters.  Doesn’t matter, he lost the slugs to the Pug, Barky.  Mariah, the only woman agent we could get our hands on, stopped off at the women’s rest room to fix her lipstick.  We saw her last, walking off with the Dr. Pepper deliveryman.

She always liked men in uniforms.

Oh, yeah, the old gray bearded guy: well he got to the top rock of the steps leading down to the Mather Vista.  He was clearly in pain.

Then the craziest thing happened.  He stopped cold and opened his eyes.  His wife looked up at his face.  I, myself, saw tears rolling down his cheeks.  The man was crying.

He probably felt glad he had his expensive sunglasses on.  That way all the German and Japanese tourists wouldn’t see him sob.  His wife hugged him, probably thinking that his leg pain was getting worse.

But, it wasn’t the leg at all.  He stepped to the railing and stood looking out and then down.

He took his iPhone out and snapped a picture and immediately texted it to his son in New York City.  He sat down on a flat rock and put his phone down.  I glanced at his text message and it read.  “Finally!  And after a lifetime of wanting to see this”.

He got up and walked back to the railing.  I stood next to his wife.  I pretended to be interested in the view.  I wondered what had moved him so much about a big gulch and a bunch of rocks.

He wasn’t saying anything but I began to pick up on some strange vibes he was emitting.  I felt that he was moved by the grandeur of the view.  This was nearly a religious experience to him.  What he was trying to take in was too much for his brain.  He was showing signs of sensory overload.  Trust me, sir; I’ve seen that look before…like when we had to keep tabs on a trucker while he sat looking at the pole-dancers at the Boom Boom Room.  It’s more than they can take in.

This was definitely more than the old gray haired guy could handle.

He left, wiping his cheeks.  I heard him mutter something about never having seen anything like this before…and probably never will.

So, as I said, he’s out of our area now.  He’s seen it.  There is no one else on our list who hasn’t’ seen the Grand Canyon.  No one is left.

Wait a minute, we just ran a Google search on his son.  He hasn’t seen it yet, either.

Wonder how long he’ll take.

Hope it’s not “like father like son”.  The kid has to see it soon before Microsoft buys the place.

After it was closed a few weeks ago due to the shut down, there was talk of leasing it to private concerns.  It was a Republican plan.  You know save money.

After all, someone in Washington said, who cares about these things anymore anyway?


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