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The Observer, July 1

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The Observer was headed down to Texarkana recently, rolling along Interstate 30, which isn't the most scenic stretch of highway (it beats the drive from Little Rock to Memphis, though). And while there may not be much to look at along the way, we did have good company, good music and a working air-conditioner — something we haven't always been blessed with before.

Somewhere long about Prescott our girlfriend looked out the passenger side window as we passed a towering, white diesel truck. The trucker had, quite inventively, taped a sign to his window, facing out toward would-be passersby. Written in thick, black permanent marker were the words, "Show tits please," followed by a happy little smiley-face.

We refrained from showing the trucker anything and had a good laugh that lasted at least a few miles, but it got us to thinking.

The Observer was once a very young man and, as such, consumed with an overwhelming desire to see those anatomical wonders with which the trucker was so obviously enamored. Our efforts, though, were never met with much success, probably having something to do with our love of comic books and Star Wars or a physique that reflected hours spent on the couch as opposed to in the gym.

We wondered how often the trucker's request was successful, if indeed it ever was. It's likely, we thought, to draw out more middle fingers than exposed breasts, a trade-off the trucker would, more than likely, happily make. But who knows?

We suppose the moral of the story here, if there is one, is you never know until you ask.

Here's what The Observer heard over the weekend.

A trio of bike riders on the North Little Rock portion of the River Trail got off their bikes to look at tracks in the dirt off the trail. One of the trio was identifying for the others some of the tracks — raccoon, etc. Suddenly, one of the bikers found a track she couldn't identify and called it to the attention of her companions.

It was, of course, her own, made by her bicycle cleats. There are so many bikers these days, probably should be included in a field guide. Homo cyclus, maybe.

We're up to our eyeballs in dog and cat fur and we want my vacuum cleaner back. But can we reach a human being in the repair shop? Noooo. The automated telephone system sends us to India, where we're given a number that's supposed to connect to the Little Rock store. But guess what! It puts us back into the automated system! We end up in India again! Now the lady on the other end says hold on, she'll break through and get us to an "associate." Guess what! We end up on the automated system again!

Now when we say we're up to our eyeballs in animal fur, we're not kidding. It's in the air, on our clothes, in the food. If you open the door to our house, it comes after you. You can understand our desperation.

Fortunately, because the repair shop in (hallelujah!) Tennessee couldn't — get this — find anything wrong with the vacuum cleaner in the first place, the shop had called our house. We had the sacred phone number to the Tennessee repair place on our voice mail, and we dialed it. We got a real person, Tennessee accent and all, a lady who could actually look at the records of what happened to the beloved canister. Yes, they were to ship it back two weeks ago! No, the records don't show it was received! She wants to help, because the dog and cat hair is making its way up the interstate to Memphis and if we don't get a working vacuum down here soon, the Mississippi River is going to be clogged with pet hair. Unsightly and potentially dangerous.

But someone's on the case! Is it asking too much to be able to call up your local store and ask a question?

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