‘Order today!’

By Bill Hudgins, columnist

My friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe recently took his first airplane ride in many years. The experience inspired another of his perpetual strike-it-rich ideas.

“They had this catalog called SkyMall, with all sorts of stuff neither you nor I would buy, but the waitress said they do a great business. [“Waitress?” “Yeah, the girl on the plane who brought me peanuts and Coca-Cola,” he said.]

“I asked her who buys this stuff, and she said people who travel all the time and remember somebody’s birthday or anniversary’s coming up, or they’re just bored and see something they can’t live without,” Rufus said.

“So I thought, ‘Sounds like truckers to me!’ I’m gonna start a catalog for them – gonna call it … SlabMall!” he enthused.

Now I’ve been messing around trucks for a few years and knew what he meant, but observed that SlabMall sounded more like a shopping center for undertakers. “Why don’t you call it RigMall?” I suggested.

He agreed that was a good name, and said he’d have catalogs at every truck stop restaurant booth, table and counter, since that’s where fellow drivers would congregate.

So what kinds of things will RigMall sell, I asked?

“Things truckers didn’t know existed or that they needed. For instance, that SkyMall had this box thing that desk driver types can put under their desks and stick their feet in to tan them,” Rufus said. “So I think truckers need a right-arm tanner. If you had a non-driving partner, they could take turns using it on their left arm.”

Then he rummaged around on the dash and handed me a rumpled sheet of paper with a scribbled list of ideas. It read like he’d been cribbing from SkyMall:

• You’ve spent a lifetime sawing logs on the road, so bring those lulling sounds home on the weekend! This combo sleep sound generator/alarm clock/radio faithfully reproduces those soothing highway noises. Choose from Reefer Rumble, Pre-EPA Idle, Truck Lot Lullaby and, for team drivers used to catching zzzzzs while under way, the unique thud-thud-thud of 18 wheels over I-40 through Arkansas.

• Round out the on-the-road-at-home experience with this exhaust fumes generator. Makes a great gift for the retired trucker who misses the road. Just a drop of the special oil will fuel hours of memories of traffic jams, overcrowded parking lots, and idling while waiting to unload. (Not recommended for persons with COPD, emphysema or other respiratory conditions.)

• Li’l D2: This pint-sized version of the famous Star Wars ’Droid is the solo driver’s best pal and co-pilot. Voice-activated with more than 30 commands, Li’l D2 packs a compact vacuum cleaner in his base that sweeps up crumbs and dirt inside the cab and sleeper. A built-in coffee thermos gives you refills through a slide-out pressure-activated spigot. Other features include air freshener mister, can/bottle koozy on one of its telescoping arms, alarm clock, stereo radio/CD/MP3 player and boot cleaner.

Tarp quilt: Flatbedders can sleep snug as a bedbug under this unique quilt pieced together from squares of old tarps. Guaranteed to resist oil, acid, grease and mildew. Heavy-duty grommets let you strap down for a secure snooze (bungees sold separately).

“Fender” amp: Highly polished steel wraps around “tandem” speakers for a rich, full sound—just the thing for all you wannabe heavy-metal rock gods! Optional LED kit installs under fender – even Joey Holiday will want one of these!

Grille ornaments: Fangs are so ’90s. These lightweight but sturdy polyresin grille ornaments will make cutting in front of you an unforgettable experience! Choose from: Bambi, Guernsey cow, traffic barrier or smart car designs.

Let Sleeper Zombies Lie: One way to avoid the Zombie Apocalypse is to outrun them. These, ahem, lifelike walking dead hitch a ride on your sleeper, held firmly in place by rare earth magnets. Phosphorescent eyes and teeth glow in the dark in your rearview mirror. You’ll want to keep driving till dawn!

I had to leave at that point, and though I don’t think Rufus can give up his day job, still … I keep thinking that I want one of those zombies.

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