Observations from the dark side

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Updated Mar 31, 2014

MATS PP Lot (800x475)

We’re at MATS this week, enjoying ourselves with the good people we always get to see at shows. OOIDA was good enough to save us a spot beside their stage at the Papa John’s Stadium, and clearly, that’s where the real show is. We’ve been treated to everything from open-mic night to a bunch of truckers in drag, raising money for charity by being hideous women. (Sorry guys, it was the most hilarious thing I’ve seen in a long time, but y’all don’t make pretty women.)

This is the first time we’ve been at the Papa John’s lot, and it’s a good bet we won’t be parking anywhere else from now on – if we can find a space available. It filled up fast, and those coming in Thursday night had a hard time. I was told there were about six trucks the police threatened to tow, because they were on the other side of the line in a vast and empty adjoining lot. I guess they were bothering the imaginary people around them in some way.

Here are a few observations from the peanut gallery. The shuttle buses from the lot to the convention center are awesome and really appreciated, however, it did not go unnoticed that we were taken around to the back of the building – past rows and rows of limos and livery cars – to be loaded and unloaded. Even at our own show we have to use the back door. And I’m fairly willing to bet no one riding in the backs of all those shiny black cars make their living with their own CDL.

It also bears to be noted that the director of the whole shindig is woefully unavailable to answer questions about press passes. While I’d like to imagine there was some completely explainable reason my press pass was given at registration and suddenly rescinded at the show itself, I’ll never actually know, because no one was ever able to take five minutes for a conversation about it. I think it’s pretty funny that one of the only people requesting a press pass who actually makes a living on the road was denied one. That brings me to my last point.

These shows aren’t necessarily geared towards “Joe Trucker.” An insane amount of money is spent on exhibits, and the big boys who spend this money aren’t doing it to appease the guy who buys one truck. They’re after the big cheese – the people riding in the black limos that are allowed to use the front door. The ones who have purchasing power and are ordering fleets of vehicles. They ain’t one-at-a-timing here, folks.

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Here’s my suggestion – if you can only go to one show next year, skip this one and head for GATS in Dallas. It’s a smaller show (so you might actually be able to see everything, instead of wandering around in concentric circles all weekend) and the exhibits are more geared towards the regular, everyday trucker. If you do go to MATS, take the time to go over to the stadium parking lot and rub elbows with the regular guys – we’ve met some of the most decent human beings on this earth in that parking lot, and you don’t need a press pass to do that.