We’re home and I’m back in my quiet office – until we leave for Laredo Wednesday. I’ve got three days to sort through the five hundred million business cards and information packets I picked up while wandering aimlessly through more than a million square feet of bright lights and glittery things. I touched so much stuff my fingertips are raw. Trade shows are harrowing for people like me, who are easily distracted and often fixated. I should probably medicate myself, but then I wouldn’t remember any of the fantastic people I meet. I’d also crawl over into a corner and sleep a lot, and that’s not conducive to productivity, so you see my predicament.
I love the shows for the people. It’s so awesome to walk around for three days and not have one single person ask you where you use the bathroom when you’re in the truck. I swear, why are unaffiliated people always so freaking interested in this? I’ll see someone I haven’t seen in a long time and tell them I’m out on the road with George about half the time now and the first thing they say is, “Does the truck have a bathroom?” What the hell? I haven’t seen you in ten years and you want to know where I pee? That’s just weird, man. Stop it.
Once again we met some of the salt of the earth, both in the Papa John’s lot and on the show floor. We actually met the Holdeman family as we were walking across the bridge to the liquor store, because Mr. Rulesy McRules wouldn’t stop a mile from the lot and let me put liquor in a moving cab. Mr. Holdeman stopped at the entrance of the plaza the liquor store was in and threw open the door of the truck. George walked over, because he assumed he was needing directions.
“I knew we’d see George and Wendy if we came to this show!”
And from there he proceeded to tell us he and his wife enjoyed the posts and one by one, little heads popped out around the door frame. He and his wife Joan, and their four precious children, made me feel like the most important human on this earth, and while it was weird to have someone stop me on the street and know my name, it was also incredibly flattering.
We ran into the Holdemans several times during the duration of the show. We learned Jonathon runs under his own authority out of South Carolina under the name Dixie Express. Joan stays home with the little ones since they started kindergarten, but they still go out for short trips with dad sometimes. The family enjoys singing old-time gospel and I’m told Joan has a set of pipes and sings like an angel. They were just some of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I’ve thought of them over and over again since I got home.
I appreciate the Holdemans and every other trucking family out there raising decent people to take care of me when I’m old. I appreciate all the readers, even the ones who hate me. You allow me to do this job and continue to meet the coolest people on earth. I’m honored to be told by James that George and I are part of the trucking family. I teared up when I read the comment. I’ve absolutely enjoyed meeting about 97 percent of the people I’ve met in the last two years in the industry. For someone as cranky and opinionated as I am, that’s a fantastic ratio. It says a lot about the industry, or at least the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet who are involved in it.
I have a lot of optimism for the future of the industry. I saw a lot of young people at the show, I saw a lot of educational organizations, I talked to a lot of people who took time to stop in at the listening session. I’d like to think Anne actually listened. I’d like to think the new trucking awareness programs will make a difference. I’d love to believe the push for a better image will take hold and become a real thing, instead of a great idea on paper. I’m optimistic because at least someone is trying to do something besides sit on a stool at the Skillet and bitch incessantly.
Ultimately, we may not be able to control our fate with the government agencies, but we can certainly put ourselves in better favor with the general public. That’s completely up to us. I know there are great people in trucking. I’ve met them. There are decent, law-abiding family people who are trying to make a living. There are also dirtbags. It’s that way in every profession, although I will admit I’ve seen more than a proportionate amount on the road. Anyway, I’m optimistic, because I like to be optimistic. Otherwise I get cranky and I can’t even stand myself.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bag full of shiny things to sort through. I may be finished by the time I fill another bag at GATS with shiny things. Yay!