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On the Light Side

December 23, 1986

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ It took some bargaining, but two students found a way to get home to Billings from fog-bound Salt Lake City airport and got a bit of an education along the way.

Butch Nolan, 18, a freshman at the University of Utah, and Jason Jourdan, 19, attending flight school in Oregon, figured they’d find a way to travel the 550 miles rather than wait for the fog to lift.

They cashed in their tickets and tried to rent a car, but rental companies wouldn’t rent to two teen-agers with no credit cards.

They were set to take a 17-hour bus trip, but then Adrian Kolman, the Romanian immigrant cab driver who drove them from the airport to the bus station, offered to drive them to Montana for $400.

″$200,″ said the Montanans.

″$300,″ said Kolman.

″Deal,″ the Montanans agreed.

″My parents were real surprised,″ Nolan said. ″At $150 apiece, it was cheaper than a plane ticket.″

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CHICAGO (AP) - A fast friend is hard to find, but a friend you can fast- forward may be coming soon to your corner video store.

Meet Sam, a warm, caring buddy who won’t desert you as long as your video cassette recorder is working.

Sam, the star of ″Rent-A-Friend, the Original Video Companion,″ talks to you, asks you questions, shares his most embarrassing moment and even lends you money.

″He’s a better friend than I could ever be,″ said Ben Hollis, 32, who created Sam and plays him on the video by Career Dynamics. ″I don’t always listen to people. I get mad in traffic jams.″

Sam is single and jobless, a little wacky and generous enough to loan you a dollar. A mail-in coupon reading ″Yes, Sam, I need the money ... Thanks for bailing me out, buddy. You’re a real friend,″ comes with the videotape package.

Sam also challenges you to a block-stacking game called ″Blockhead,″ and loses every time, but laughs it off. He’s a good sport.

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CAIRO, Ill. (AP) - The Cairo Public Utility Commission is giving its 3,300 natural-gas customers free service this month as a Christmas present.

″I’m just tickled to death that everything came together this year so we could do it,″ manager Karl Klein said Monday.

The free December service for customers in 13 Southern Illinois towns came about because the utility got a $206,000 refund from its gas supplier, Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., and amassed $200,000 from investments and savings made by buying gas on the spot market, Klein said.

The utility board decided to make it up to customers and ″They figured a good time to do it was at Christmas time,″ Klein said.