Line One
Let them eat snack cakes

Bill Hudgins

After reading in “LandMine Magazine” that truckers tend to be heavier than average citizens, my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe went on a diet.

Actually, he is recently reconciled with wife No. 3 and she has put him on a diet. The missus is the real power behind the airlift throne in that vintage Cornbinder doing business as Hold On Hold On Shipping (this, and his love for a certain snack cake, is where he got his handle, “Ho-Hos”).

It seems she was tired of letting out his overalls. And after Rufus suggested she could also join him at the tentmaker’s, she threw down the D word. Muttering “if Oprah can do it, we can, too,” she tore through the kitchen like a promotion-hungry DOT inspector, tossing out chips, dips, sodas, frozen pizzas and those snack cakes.

When Rufus said “diet,” he looked like he had lost his best friend. So I offered to ride with him for a couple of days to see what he ate and suggest some changes.

First stop was a dilapidated mom-and-pop with a gravel lot and cheap diesel.

“They been seeing me here for years,” Rufus said.

We hit a fogbank of smoke at the door, a lot of it coming from the kitchen.

Rufus ordered the Junior Billy BigRigger Breakfast – three eggs, four pieces each of bacon and sausage, a dish of grits, hash browns and a plate of biscuits and gravy.

“You want juice?” the waitress asked. “Naw, I’m on a diet,” he answered. I just ordered coffee and toast, which had so much butter on it that we could have used it as a fifth wheel.

After Rufus demolished his breakfast, he picked up a 32-ounce soda for the road. A few hours later he was hungry again, and we slid into a spot at a shiny chain truck stop. “No smoking” signs were everywhere, and the restaurant was strategically placed at the far end of a tempting gauntlet of C-store stuff.

He said he usually had the buffet here and asked what his new diet strategy should be.

“Soup and salad bar,” I said.

Off he went. He was gone a long time, and when he returned, I saw why. His plate was a foot-high work of art, with layers of tuna, macaroni and chicken salad, gelatin squares, several kinds of sweet salads and about a half-pound of cheese, croutons and bacon bits, mortared with lots of ranch dressing. A couple of rolls clung to the sides, and I spied a chicken leg sticking out from the middle.

That’s not exactly what I meant, I said.

As he methodically worked his way down (revealing not only a chicken leg, but also some meatloaf and a brat hidden under some mashed potatoes), I lectured about the wonders of low-fat, fruit, fiber, dark-green leafy vegetables, anti-oxidants, beta-carotene and laying off the dressing, sweet stuff and cheese.

I pontificated about eating several small meals throughout the day, rather than two or three gutbombs; of water instead of soda; of broiled fish and chicken instead of fried catfish and 12-ounce cheeseburgers.

I picked righteously at my own nutritionally correct salad as I talked about exercise, discipline and self-control. Rufus munched and nodded, then called the waitress over. With a sly grin, he simply said, “Tell him about your desserts.”

She had me at chocolate meringue pie. And we grabbed some snack cakes for the road.

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often.

Bill Hudgins may be reached at