Airports and people are truly interesting

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

As I write this column, I’m sitting at Dallas’ Love Field waiting for an airplane. The one that brought me here was 10 minutes early; this one’s an hour and 25 minutes late. Oh, well. The wait has been interesting, largely because people are interesting. No place better for people watching than airports.

I’ve seen, of course, lots of cloned business folks walking through, a few talking in animated fashion to thin air. (Phones stuck deep in their heads, you see.) Pretty much all in the same uniform.

I just saw one interesting gent in a sport coat and slacks sporting something that looked like a large deceased squirrel perched on his head. A hat of some sort. I’d like to do a postmortem on that squirrel. It’s unique.

There are several gals balancing on shoes sporting foot-long spikes. I can’t imagine how, or why, they walk in those things. They look sharp enough to be a genuine security hazard, poke holes in the carpet, chip chunks out of the concrete.

Speaking of security, I ran the security gauntlet one more time and managed not to get arrested, for which my wife is thankful. Anybody who thinks the terrorists haven’t already won hasn’t flown recently. The bad guys never thought they could blow us all up; they just wanted to affect all of our lives adversely, and they have.

TSA announcements now regularly ring through the concourse. I don’t know why the ones that begin, “By order of the Transportation Safety Administration . . .” bug me so much. I guess it’s because I thought we’d opted way back in the Revolutionary War not to have a king issuing “By order of His Majesty” sorts of orders. Not that I’d mind a good king. I think a good one is vastly to be preferred over mindless bureaucracy (two words that go together like “pie and ice cream” or “athlete’s foot and itch.”

Then there’s the language. I’d never thought much about it until I sat and listened to the announcement over and over again: “Passengers should control their baggage closely and avoid transporting items without their knowledge.” I don’t want to transgress any laws, and this is serious. Nothing less than a matter of national security, about which I would never joke. So I may need to find a TSA official to ask what I should do the moment I know that I’m transporting something without my knowledge. I don’t think I know.

I just saw a fellow walk through carrying a trophy which, stood on end, would almost be taller than he is. And I’ve seen a young gal or two sitting in wheelchairs and holding crutches. Evidently a national cheerleading competition has just been held in Dallas.

Hmm. God knows every hair, every thought, every need, every heart, of everyone in this airport. He loves and knows each one completely.

I need to remember that. So far, though, I haven’t even figured out that squirrel.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at