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On a particularly groggy Thursday morning, rounding out a particularly spiteful week of misfires, The Observer bummed a ride from the Significant Other and canine friend because ye old jalopy (that really isn't so old) was having an expensive, two-mechanics-worthy temper tantrum.

We were en route to the Fortress of Employment when we spied a stalled sedan in the midst of a busy intersection and a distressed young family man repeatedly flinging himself against the back bumper, enacting a ritual last witnessed at Warp Tour '98. Those were the days when The Observer could float pleasantly atop noise pollution in a cloud of complex chemical concoction. Somehow, witnessing Family Man's solo mosh pit was much less pleasant, and it was failing to budge the sensible sedan with 2.5 kids plus wifey inside.

"Why don't they get out of the car?" Significant Other grumbled, mostly because he was annoyed that Jiminy Cricket was cozying up on that right shoulder, chirping himself hoarse.

He sighed, pulled into the bus stop and hopped out of his truck, leaving it running because The Observer was, of course, already delinquent at the Fortress.

He joined Family Man. As they body slammed in unison, The Observer began to worry that the sedan had fused itself to the pavement, the way that a tongue fuses itself to a flagpole in similar temperatures. The Observer hopped out of the truck too, taking care to first engage the unlock button. We bounced impatiently on the sidewalk, not even shutting the door, wondering if we should join the action in the mosh pit.

Suddenly, there was a gust of wind, and the truck door slammed shut. Simultaneously, the sedan started rolling. Family Man and Significant Other ran behind it, while the wife steered to safety. The Observer meandered back to the truck and casually tried the door.

Now something else wouldn't budge. As our canine friend whined piteously and scratched at the airtight windows, we tugged, braced ourselves and tugged some more. Exhaust mocked us robustly from the tailpipe. By the time Significant Other returned, we knew it was a lost cause. An ominous rain began to fall.

Just as Significant Other decided he should hike several miles home and retrieve the spare key — our phones and are wallets are in the truck, mind you — a stranger pulled up in something that vaguely resembled those SUV limousines beloved by hip- hop stars. His attire indicated that, at 8:49 a.m., he was on his way to some black tie event.

Significant Other disappeared into the massive SUV, and he and the Man in Black headed into the unknown. We huddle by the truck and shivered, shouting encouragement to our petrified canine friend, who was now projecting our panic. His paws moved frantically on the horizontal treadmill of the window. We told him to quit panting, so that the oxygen inside the truck would last longer.

A bus pulled alongside the truck. The driver shot eye daggers. We hung our head, ashamed, pathetic and increasingly damp. Significant Other's voice boomed inside our head, aping the screech we knew our voice would take if the situation were reversed.

Then a cop pulled up, lights flashing. All we needed was a ticket, or worse, a tow! The Observer tried an easy jog to the patrol car, hoping to appear casual and likeable, prepared to assure the cop that everything's under control, that she likes us and wants to be our friend, that if she holds off for just two minutes, the truck will be removed from the bus stop. She pulled a Good Cop routine, offering to turn on her lights and park behind us so the truck wouldn't take it in the you-know-what, since it was jutting into the busy intersection.

Finally the massive SUV returned, expelling Significant Other from its steaming belly. We waved our thanks to the cop and gratefully situated ourselves in the truck. Our canine friend rewarded his liberators with a warm pink tongue on all exposed skin. We steeled our spine and turned to Significant Other to accept our chiding.

But instead of shouting, he was laughing. It's the only necessary response, really. And as soon as the Observer realized this, we were laughing too.

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