Ben Stein's Diary

Saved by OnStar

A midnight rescue in scary Baldwin Park.

By 2.12.13

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Monday
Difficult day, beset by some kind of digestive problems.

But I don’t want to dwell on them. I did have a moving and emotional talk with my old editor from Barron’s, Jim Meagher. Jim was a brave, fearless, intelligent editor. He edited my many writings about Drexel and about Milken and about management buyouts. So when I wanted to write something about the proposed Dell management buyout, of course I called Meagher.

To my horror, he told me his beautiful wife had passed away about a year ago. I remember her well. She was as lovely as the day is long and they were totally in love.

I started to sob so much I could not continue the conversation. How do widows and widowers do it? How can they bear up under the stress? How can they bear the unbearable, to coin a phrase?

Those of us who still have our wives and husbands -- let’s be grateful. More than that. Prostrate with gratitude.

Speaking of which, about five days ago, Big Wifey and I were driving back from the desert to L.A. on superhighway 10. For some reason we never learned, there was a roadblock and 10 was totally shut down westbound around Baldwin Park. That is a largely industrial neighborhood I know nothing of.

Traffic was routed onto a surface street. But there was no detour route marked out. There were no highway patrol people, no signs, no lights -- nada. It was midnight.

We might as well have been on the moon. We were totally lost. Then I remembered OnStar. OnStar is a service offered by GM and maybe some other companies, too. When you press that button (if you are a subscriber, which you had better be), a live human being comes on the line. That being finds you on a map. Tells you where you are, then tells you how to get back on the freeway going west past the roadblock and back to home.

In this case, the voice belonged to a charming Canadian woman named Mary and she did a perfect job. She got us right back onto the freeway where we wanted to be. It was a miracle. We were hopelessly lost, no place open, no clue of where we were -- and one button press and we were saved. She had a friendly, cheerful, reassuring voice and we love her. We were back on the freeway in five minutes.

It was a miracle like in the Bible. If I can help it, neither I nor anyone I love will ever be without OnStar. And don’t say, “What about the GPS on your phone?” Yes, I have GPS on my phone. But I can’t set it while I am driving. OnStar is totally hands free after you press that first button.

I wish I had something like that for every other part of my life. A voice to guide me in the right direction. Maybe I do.

In the meantime, OnStar. The smart way to find your way.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.