Line One
Downshift
Yardsticks of affection

Unless you’ve ridden a few hundred thousand miles in their cabs, it’s almost impossible to have a good understanding of truckers. That’s especially true when it comes to matters of the heart, declares my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe.

Rufus hasn’t been what you’d call lucky in love – he’s up to Mrs. Rufus No. 3, and they’ve had more ups and downs than a set of landing gear. But he’s determined to make this one last, and has been trying hard to keep the glowplug lit in their romantic engine.

But he was totally stymied when he started looking for Valentine’s cards this year. A trucker’s love life is unusual, and it takes a different kind of person to love one.

Love lives – and dies – through scratchy phone lines and e-mail and rushed days at home. Pillow talk is murmured against a background of idling diesels and sighing airbrakes. “Always” has to be compressed into erratic 48-hour episodes together, and a promise for someday.

No wonder trucking songs are all bittersweet.

Sweethearts and spouses and significant others have to compete with those two oh-so-demanding mistresses, the truck and the road. Let’s face it, when you gaze into your beloved’s eyes, the view doesn’t change much.

Not true when you are gazing out a windshield. And the truck never asks you if its fender skirts make it look fat, what color tires it should wear or whose grease is that on your shirt.

So Rufus decided to compose some cards of his own, especially for truckers. A little bit of Internet research convinced him that writing greeting card verses was the perfect second job for a trucker – he could compose on those long boring stretches between traffic snarls.

He figured the best way to drum up business is to give away a few free samples, and offered me as many cards as I wanted if I would get him a little publicity. Frankly, I think he’s more Freightshaker than Shakespeare, but you make the call:

Dear,
Since we met in that truck stop diner,
we’ve been together in my Freightliner.
Those other girls, I have canned ’em,
now you’re the only one in my tandem.

They said weekends home, and that promise they kept:
I came in Friday night, said hi, hugged the kids and slept.
We had Saturday, then late Sunday came the summons,
Time to pack, kiss you goodbye, and fire up the Cummins.
I’ll be gone a week, from horizon to horizon,
but with you every night, wherever there is Verizon.

Come ride with me and be my love,
and,we will live like hand and glove.
Oh, and did I neglect to mention?
My sleeper has air-ride suspension.

When i met you at the VFW hall dance,
You told me flat-out a trucker had no chance.
But then we two-stepped and went out for a spin,
And you’ve been my only Line 1 since then.

I suggested to Rufus that he might think about expanding the line to some other occasions. As it happened, his brother-in-law had just broken up with his long-time girlfriend. So Rufus grabbed a pen and in minutes had composed a condolence card:

She said she loved your shiny Mack,
And vowed to wait til you came back.
But when you returned, it was the darkest night,
And she’d gone off in some rusty old White.
Now she’s back and says she wants the home,
And all you’ll have is the note on the chrome.

No offense to Rufus, folks, but I think I’ll be shopping at Hallmark again this year.
Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often.

 

Bill Hudgins may be reached at billhudgins@earthlink.net.

March/April
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