Isn’t technology great?
I attended a university a scant 65 miles from where I grew up, so it was not unusual for me to come home on the weekends. This event generally coincided with when I was running low on quarters and needed to do my laundry for free. Plus my folks — who were raising three somewhat rough-and-tumble boys who went through a lot of clothes — had an industrial strength washer and dryer large enough that I could do an entire week’s worth of laundry in one load, which — like a lot of guys my age at the time — appealed to me.
One Saturday night, in the dead of winter, we all were awakened at 2:00 a.m. by a call from our neighbor across the street letting us in on the fact a car thief was sitting in the driver’s seat of my Mustang.
Upon getting this intelligence, my brother and I did what any right-thinking Chicagoan would have done: I grabbed a fireplace shovel while my brother grabbed a baseball bat and we raced out the front door — which my mother held open for us — determined to show the thief the error of his ways.
The thief — who we later discovered was one of the neighborhood’s drug addicts looking for something to steal and then pawn — immediately aborted his plans upon seeing what was headed his way and started running down the street. Much to his dismay, we followed. A block and a half later I got close enough where I was able to smack him over the head with the shovel. This turn of events wasn’t particularly good for either the thief — who was momentarily knocked cold — or the shovel, which now was bent to the degree where it could no longer perform its intended function.
Just after the thief hit the pavement face first, my brother arrived — I had a head start on him — and then moments later, my father. My brother and I handed my father the shovel and bat and, while the thief still lie groggy, flipped him onto his back. We then each grabbed an ankle and started to drag him back to the house. (I did mention that we were somewhat rough and tumble, didn’t I?)
The dragging didn’t last long — the guy was heavy. So we eventually got him, still groggy, onto his feet and escorted him back to the house, where members of Chicago’s finest already were awaiting our arrival — apparently our neighbor had placed a second call. We handed over the perpetrator to the bemused officers, who made no comment about the condition of the shovel — if they noticed, they never let on. Nor did they comment about my bare feet, which were a bloody mess from coming into contact repeatedly during the chase with the ice shards that covered the street.
It has been years since I last thought about this incident, which happened roughly three decades ago. What jogged my memory bank was reading last week (click here) about a new service from OnStar that will remotely disable an OnStar-enabled vehicle that has been stolen.
Now, despite the fact I write and edit for a technology magazine, I am ironically technology phobic in my personal life. I don’t own an MP3 player or a personal digital assistant. My cell phone is — well, it’s just a phone. (The only other thing it does — at least that I’m aware of — is take photos, but I have absolutely no idea what to do with them after I take them — nor do I care to find out.) And I drive a Jeep, which may be the least technological vehicle in the world. If I want to open a window, I turn the crank; if I want to unlock the door, I stick a key in the door slot. If I want to take the top down, I have to do it all by myself. There’s no motorized contraption to do it for me.
But I will be taking a look at the OnStar service. The Jeep also is one of the easiest cars to break into — I know this for a fact because it’s happened to me twice in the two years I’ve owned mine. Plus, I don’t run anywhere near as fast as I used to.
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