My little yellow rental car started talking to me yesterday in the middle of Wisconsin. I’m serious! After several hours of driving from Chicago to Mpls I was getting bored. So I started fiddling with the rear-view mirror (which had a lot of buttons on it), wondering how you adjust it on this car. (Hey—that’s what guys do.)
I grabbed a hold of it and tilted it upwards. There. Much better. At the same time I noticed that my music suddenly stopped playing. Then I heard a woman’s voice coming from inside my car. Scared me half to death. I looked in the rear-view mirror to check the back seat. Maybe I had a guest passenger who slipped in at the last gas stop. Except that she didn’t seem to be talking directly to me. I heard her say something about “…On Star system.”
The next thing you know I hear a phone ringing. I looked around to answer it. But like—WHERE was it? Then a guy with a smooth voice answered, “Emergency On-Star system. How can I help you?” Great. I’m caught! Hey, all I was doing was dinging around with the mirror and the next thing you know the emergency services is calling me to find out what I’m doing to their mirror! I wanted to say something but… where’s the phone!?
For a moment I thought… “Just pretend he’s not there.” I mean, where IS he, anyway? Really? Then it occurred to me, “okay, if I can hear him without picking up a phone, then maybe he can hear me.”
So, as I was buzzing along at 71 mph in the middle of Wisconsin, I started talking to my car. “Ahhh, sorry… I think I must have hit a button by mistake.” I waited. Would there be an answer? The smooth voice answered back, “That’s okay, sir. Have a nice evening.” Hmmm. That’s interesting. Obviously this little yellow cheap Chevy has an On-Star system. I looked more carefully at all those buttons on the rear-view mirror. I noticed that one was reddish and looked like the culprit. So I guess that means that no matter where you are on the planet, no matter how far away from civilization you can drive this little yellow Chevy, no matter how isolated you are from other human beings, you’re not really alone after all. The whole world is just waiting on the other side of the door, ready to be a part of your life. All you have to do is press the little, tiny, reddish button on the rear-view mirror, and someone comes to your assistance. Cool! Or, Yikes! Depending on your perspective. Actually, Cadillac didn’t invent this concept. It’s been around for thousands of years. No matter where you are, no matter what how badly you’ve screwed up, no matter how far away from others you've become, no matter how isolated you feel… all you have to do is start talking out loud, into thin air, just like I did in that little yellow rental car in the middle of Wisconsin. And God hears you. The concept is called prayer.
(originally posted on June 25, 2008)