After the service someone suggested we drive out to the old homestead and see what was left. Now realize that the little town, population 27, where the service was held was literally in the middle of nowhere. Now we drove 18 miles out of town to where the old farm had been. We were now way beyond nowhere. It was a hot day in July and the sun was bright in the sky and heat waves were rising from the plowed ground. The couple with the new baby didn’t want to get the tiny child out of the car and into the heat, so they left the motor and the air conditioning running and left the baby in the car.
It was some new, fancy car. I think a Volvo or a Saab — something foreign, although these days, I think it was made by General Motors. Anyway, they left the engine running and the keys in the ignition. However, out of habit, they locked the doors, and didn’t realize it until it was too late.
… Just a second. Got to take a break. The dog is bugging me to go out. I’ll be right back.
OK, I’m back. Now, as I was saying …
We all sat around staring at the locked car with the baby sleeping unconcerned in the back seat. Various ideas were batted around. Someone suggested using a rock to break a window, but the mother didn’t want to take any chance of flying glass and the new dad was a little too concerned about the car itself.
I asked the wife if she had keys. She said yes, in her purse, right there on the front seat.
Someone asked if the car had “OnStar,” that fancy support function. The dad said it did with a sudden awakening, and he grabbed his cell phone to call OnStar. They could unlock the car by remote control, just like those ads you see on TV.
Now, did I mention that we were 18 miles from the middle of nowhere? Did you think that a cell phone was going to work way out here in the boonies?? No, no coverage, not even roaming.
… Hang on. Another potty trip. Can’t ignore the dog. Be right back.
OK, back …
After a lot of talking and a little thinking, someone suggested they drive back up the road to a farmhouse. They should have a phone, and we could call OnStar and ask them to unlock the car. I started up my old pickup and the new poppa jumped in with me. We headed back down the dirt road and about a mile or so came upon a farmhouse.
We knocked on the door and a nice, gray haired lady let us in. We asked to use her phone, and she warned us it was a party line and be sure that Mrs. Glotagulp was not all ready talking. Fortunately Glotagulp was not on the line, and as the young dad dialed the number on his little plastic card for the OnStar operator, I gladly accepted the cold glass of lemonade offered by the thoughtful host.
Soon he had the OnStar person on the phone and was giving her the 36-digit code number on his card, as well as answering all the secret questions. (I didn’t know that his dad’s middle name was Milton. Not that I’d ever tease him about that … Milt …)
So, soon the operator was sending the magic message to his electronic car directing the doors to unlock. Didn’t work! She said it must be out of range. Out of range of what? Oh, I didn’t realize that OnStar used cell phone technology. Guess we weren't just out of range, but out of luck too.
Now real worry set in. What if the car ran out of gas? How quickly would the temperature inside climb to a dangerous level? Would his wife ever forgive him for locking the baby in the car? The rock through the window was starting to become a good idea.
… Hang on a sec. The dog again. Be right back …
OK. That didn't take too long …
About then our gracious host offered the advice that we should call the County Sheriff. Seems they would know how to get in the locked car. So we took her suggestion and soon the Sheriff’s office had promised one of the best men would be right out to deal with our predicament.
We headed back to tell the rest of the family that help was on the way. Not long after we got back, we saw the cloud of dust as the sheriff’s deputy made his way to our location. His name was “Wade” and he was proof that the police really do favor donuts. We explained the situation, and he said we didn’t have to worry. Seems he had a “slim jim.” That’s a thin piece of metal with a notch cut on the end. The car burglar simply slides the thin metal down the door next to the window and catches the internal lock … errr … thingy, and then pops the lock up.
It seemed a simple solution, although, after fifteen minutes of fishing, the deputy had yet to catch the little … errr … catch.
About that time another cloud of dust appeared up the road, and we were soon joined by the Sheriff himself. Seems it was a slow crime day in this rural region. After observing our predicament and the failure of his best — and I suspect stoutest — deputy to catch the catch, he headed back to his car. He said he had a new “slim jim,” and it was even slimmer. Apparently slimness is something to be desired in the “jim,” although neither the deputy, or, in reality, the sheriff either, could be referred to by the same adjective.
… Sorry. This should be the last time. The dog drank a lot of water.
OK. I think we’re finished. It was a number 5. Three 1’s and a 2. Now, where was I …
Well, a slimmer slim jim did appear to be just what was needed, because the sheriff soon had the car unlocked and the trapped baby was now the center of hugs and tears. Even the sheriff and his deputy had to remark how peaceful the baby was. Peaceful, the baby had slept through the whole thing.
So, as the caravan headed back to the city, well the town, or the village, or the wide spot in the road … you take your pick, I thought about technology: from cell phones to party lines. But it appears that nothing can beat a “slim jim.”
Oh, did I mention that my name is James? Coincidence? I think not.