Say you?re stranded with an armload of paper towels at the Target on Elston Avenue--and there?s not a bus or a cab in sight.

Enter SideCar, a new app for iPhone and Android that connects on-demand drivers with people who need rides. Wherever you are, open the app and request a driver, then wait for the confirmation call.

Your chauffeur-of-the-moment will arrive within two to ten minutes in a newish car (less than ten years old; you might ride in anything from a Cadillac to a Prius) and of course boast a clean driving record.

The process is cashless and payment is donation-only; the app keeps your credit card on file and suggests an amount at the end of the ride. (Technically you could skip out for free, but who would do that?) For instance, the three-mile trip from Big Star to the Pump Room cost us $7; the driver keeps 80 percent. (Be a driver yourself and earn a little extra gas money.)

SideCar?s Chicago manager, Lisa Frame (also the hilarious blogger behind SoYeahDuh), says the service has been a hit in other cities because it?s both cost-effective (usually less than cab fare) and a fun way to meet people and get new perspectives on the city.

It?s the one time we?ll say it: Go ahead, take a ride from a stranger.

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