Thursday, September 15, 2011

Credible shmedible! Who gets to search the body cavity?

No, the ad at right is not there by mistake. I’ll get around to it. But first I have to tell you the news:

A woman was arrested on “credible evidence” that she was smuggling heroin across the Mexican border in a certain, umm, body cavity. She was busted in or near Las Cruces, New Mexico. A judge ordered that she be taken to a hospital so that her, you know, body cavity could be searched.

The hospital found nothing that didn’t belong there. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Then the hospital billed the woman $1,122 for, uhh, professional services.

The good news is that the rather embarrassed Metro Narcotics Agency is picking up her hospital bill. Thus they avoid becoming a target of unquenchable ire and extreme ridicule. But the whole incident raises a number of questions:

• New York City was in near panic mode on the 9/11 just past over “credible evidence” that there was a plot to bomb us, or blow us up somehow, or something or other. A lot of cops and firemen made a lot of overtime money converging with lights flashing and automatic rifles at the ready around various points in town. A lot of TV newscasters spent a lot of time talking about nothing else. I rode the subway on 9/11, and for the first time in months, if I had seen something (which I didn’t) I could have found a cop to say something to. Which raises the question of whether we ought to have a legal definition of "credible evidence." Was the evidence that some desperate guy on a waterboard said something to keep the CIA from forcing more water up his schnozz? Was the evidence two guys overheard talking in a bar in Toledo? I mean, come on!

• The woman in Las Cruces got billed $1,122 for the body cavity search that was forced on her. Which involved what? Let’s say someone at the hospital looked into not just one of her cavities, but every orifice in her body, from ears and nostrils on down. How much medical skill does it take, and how long does it take, to shine a light in, stick your umm, tongue depressor in, look around and say, “Nope, no shipment of heroin in here!” Let’s generously say ten minutes. That comes to $122 a minute in compensation for the hospital. And you wonder why your medical insurance is so expensive, or why Medicare is supposedly going broke?

• What kind of qualifications do I need in order to get hired as a body cavity searcher? I promise you, I’m not being kinky. Some of those cavities can be downright unpleasant. But at $122 a minute (that’s $7,320 an hour) I’ll grit my teeth and take the work.

•Finally, an explanation of the ad above. It appeared next to the article about the $1,122 orifice search on the website of the Las Cruces Sun. A subhead says, “Like floating on a cool pool of energy savings,” whatever that means. But then the ad shows its true Dada-ist colors when it says, “Save $700 in home energy. Air mattress not included.” As if one would naturally expect an air mattress to be included whenever I buy something from the local power company. While they’re at it, why don’t they mention that the pool is not included either, or the water?

But never mind all that. Just tell me were I get that $7,320-an-hour job searching body cavities.

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