Since I started writing here about my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe, a lot of people have asked me for more details about him. Who’s he drive for, what’s that vintage Cornbinder of his look like, what truck stops does he favor, what does he look like? He sounds familiar, they say, maybe we’ve met him?
He should sound familiar, and I’d bet anyone who has been out here for more than a couple of months has met Rufus.
As you’ve seen, Rufus can be sarcastic, cynical and rough around the edges. He’s not politically correct or romantic, and he can be incredibly dense, especially when it comes to the feelings of others. Just when you think you’ve got his number, though, he’ll surprise you.
Rufus is the guy who spotted you trying to change lanes, adjusted his course to open up the space and flashed his lights to tell you to go, in case you weren’t listening to him on Channel 19, and then flashed them again to let you in.
Out there in the big dark West, when too many hours lay like bricks on your eyelids, Rufus was the one running with you, filling the CB skip with all those old “three guys walk into a bar” jokes and asking you about your kids, till you came to a pull-off and could take a nap.
You know Rufus – he’s the one who questioned what three-week Wonderdriver school you attended as you’re trying to ease into the last space in a parking lot, then bought you a cup of coffee and filled in some of the gaps that so-called “trainer” left in your education.
A lot of people know Rufus, from the time he deadheaded more’n 500 miles to visit his Trucker Buddy Class, or slid into the back of the Make-a-Wish convoy or helped Special Olympics in the World’s Largest Truck Convoy.
The DOT and the cops know Rufus, too. Oh, he’s often rough as a cob and his social skills leave a lot to be desired (ask wife No. 3). But after 3 million miles, he’s learned that being polite and having his paperwork in order takes less time than a Level I inspection. And while that rig has been more places than a spammed e-mail, everything on it is clean, tight and working.
He’s the one with the American flag, POW-MIA decal, missing kids poster, No-Zone stickers and Shriners Hospital plaque. Don’t overlook the OOIDA decal, because Rufus runs legal, as you should, and he doesn’t take cheap freight, and you shouldn’t either.
He’s seen more of the country than most people ever will, and someday he’s going back to actually look at it.
You’ve sure as heck seen Rufus.
He’s the one you saw changing a tire for that soccer mom’s minivan. The driver who picked up the lost puppy at the rest stop and now never goes anywhere without it. The driver who holds the Natso award for most visits to buffets, not because he likes them, but because he can fill up once a day so he can put more dough toward his kids’ education. The guy who spotted the weaving driver, organized a rolling roadblock and called in the troopers. The fella who came in behind a burning car, pulled out the driver, kept him warm until the EMTs arrived and then left like the Lone Ranger, without saying who he was or waiting for a thank you.
That’s Rufus; heck, I forgot to say he has a twin sister who’s a driver just like him. Look around – you might see one of them going by now.
Or maybe just look in your mirror …
Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often.
Bill Hudgins may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.