It's Media Day at the big show, and that means a long day of press conferences as the companies line up to unveil their latest and greatest products for the trucking media. There is plenty being unveiled this year, and an air of cautious optimism from most of the companies involved.
I had the good fortune to spend much of the day with Land Line Magazine's own Paul Abelson. You always learn something when you're with Paul. They don't call him Professor Paul for nothing.
The day started at the Bendix press conference, where the brake manufacturer was jazzed about some of its new products, including a new warning system that alerts drivers to the presence of stationary objects in the road.
As key members of the staff were introduced, I dutifully applauded each one until Paul, sitting at the table beside me, leaned over and, with a wink in his eye, said "Real journalists don't applaud." It was just the first of many lessons of the day from Professor Paul.
When Kenworth unveiled its new T-700 model truck - a pretty good-looking truck, if I do say so - the curtain around the thing had barely fallen when I looked up through the cab window and saw Paul crawling around inside, giving it a good once-over. He was, of course, the first in line.
At the Peterbilt lunch we had to take a bus away from the Expo Center to a hotel downtown. On the way back, our bus was late as it waited for some stragglers (including, I must admit, me), and I picked Paul's brain about the new MX engine from Paccar. He seems to like it, by the way.
By the time we got back to the Expo Center, a rumor had spread around that our bus had broken down. Paul was quick to dispel it. "It wasn't the bus that broke down," he joked. "It was the driver."
Ah, but Professor Paul's lessons weren't just limited to trucking knowledge and bad jokes. On our way to the Carrier Transicold press conference, Paul asked me a question. "Since it is NCAA tournament time, do you know what Syracuse (University) and Carrier Transicold have in common?"
"No," I said, bracing myself for a cringe-worthy punchline.
"Syracuse plays in the Carrier Dome, which is named for the company we are about to visit," he said.
I did not know that.
On Friday, we will engage in what has become a tradition for the Radio Show here at MATS - eating barbecue with Paul. Oh, sure, it's not as good as the stuff we get back in Kansas City, but it ain't bad. Besides, the meal is only part of the fun.
The dessert will be more lessons from Professor Paul.