Common sense and bureaucracy rarely meet

By Curtis K. Shelburne

Lately at our church we’ve been studying the “fruits of the Spirit.” We plan to talk about “Patience” soon, but I think I need the lesson right now!

Recently, I had under my care a genuine, certifiable, hurricane refugee (excuse me, “evacuee”).

She was and is my sister, flown up to this high, dry, flat country because Hurricane Rita was, at the time, bearing down on Houston which, most of us up here have long suspected, is an uninhabitable swamp in the best of times.

Even before she was run out of town by Rita, Ruthie has had a pretty tough time.

She was already on disability when she fell a year or two ago and broke her leg, literally slicing and dicing the bone in 13 or so places.

She underwent a serious operation to get that bone pinned, glued, and riveted back together. The docs did the best they could, but it didn’t knit well, which is why, back in February, Ruthie was seeing her orthopedic surgeon in the medical center to set up some radical leg surgery for the next week, and was riding in a wheelchair van when the van driver turned left in front of a Houston Light Rail Metro train.

It’s a law: In train-versus-auto collisions, the train always wins.

The van driver was hardly scratched. My sister’s survival was amazing but dicey: two punctured lungs, cracked facial bones, cracked vertebra, a crack in the bone of the good leg, and more — months in ICU on a ventilator and finally, a few weeks ago, home with constant care. But home.

Until Rita.

I was surprised Southwest Airlines would even consider flying her anywhere, but they did. She spent a few days in our amazing nursing home here. Then came the “all clear” and time for her to fly back to Houston.

Southwest kindly gave me a pass to go with her through security. I made it through with at least some clothes left on, after I’d wheeled Ruthie over to the polite TSA person.

However, I began to think the security gal would never finish wanding Ruthie, checking her purse with a fine-tooth comb, etc.

Common sense is an unappreciated quality bureaucracies always discourage, but TSA was dealing with a lady who could barely stand up, who was discreetly catheterized, breathing through an open tracheotomy, obviously bruised and banged up, her head wrapped in gauze due to ICU hardware wounds. A terrorist threat?

Not hardly. I’ve never yet seen a terrorist choke, pull a tube out of his neck, clean it with a pipe cleaner, and shove it back in.

I dunno. The government won’t listen to me, but I think they ought to spend a bunch of these security dollars doing background checks on those who request them — first on frequent flyers, and then on the rest of us.

Anybody who hasn’t blown up a plane in 10 years or so ought to get an ID card (with thumbprint, retinal scan info, or some such), swipe it at the ticket counter or checkpoint, where a TSA person says, “Have a nice flight, Mr. Brown,” and unless he replies, “Allah is great,” he and his luggage should go quickly through, completely unmolested.

Not politically correct, I know, but when middle-aged preachers start blowing up airplanes, I probably shouldn’t be all that surprised if I’m looked at a tad closer than some other passengers.

By the way, I think Mr. Brown should even be allowed to keep his fingernail clippers and (don’t pass out here) his trusty ol’ pocketknife.

But that would make sense.

Thank God salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, and not by bureaucracy.