We would like to thank Mr. Alex Debogorski for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with 365Trucking.com
The New Season of Ice Road Truckers Premieres Monday July 7th at 10et/9c on The History Channel. A well known part of this cast of professional truck drivers and a fan favorite is Alex Debogorski. He is no stranger to the cold weather and wilderness of the North. On his off time, he resides in Yellowknife British Columbia with his ever growing family. Known for his generosity, kindness and sense of humor, he has grown a large devoted fan base throughout his time on the show. In 2010 he ventured out across the US to promote his book, King of The Road: True Tales from a Legendary Ice Road Trucker. Along this tour, he spent countless hours meeting and talking with fans. You can find some stories in this book about what it was like for Alex growing up in the "Great White North" as well as how he got his first job in truck driving and some other very interesting stories from his life. Alex has often said that he feels a responsibility with his notoriety to reach out to people and hopefully touch their lives in an uplifting way. It was our privilege to interview him prior to the Season 8 Premiere of Ice Road Truckers.
Q: I learned you currently have 11 children and 13 grandchildren but you are hoping for 90 grandchildren. Is that about right?
A: Well, yes we have 13 grandchildren already and everybody [keeps busy working on more] so I wouldn't be surprised if we get there. The bottom line is, life is short. So, I wonder, what are we doing this all for? I figure it's children. Even though I don't particularly like children because they're the reason I'm broke! (Boisterous laughter)
Q: How many do you think may take on the challenges of Ice Road Trucking?
A: I'd be surprised if any of them do but you never know. I never planned on being a truck driver but there was a certain point when I went to college and ended up getting married after a year and then that was the end of college. The first year I was 18 years old and I think I had 16 jobs. People say it's hard to get a job now and that it was so easy to get a job then. Well, it was never easy for a kid that doesn't know anything to get a job. I think I was working at a tire shop getting a $1.90 an hour when someone was looking for a truck driver. He asked if I had a license and I told him I had a license to drive a car. He said they needed drivers for the coal mine and since they were off road there, it should be ok. They were desperate so he took me. I worked in the coal mine for the next 4 years.
Q: We have met people that have met you and they've described you as a man's man. That's a term you don't hear too often used today...
Alex: Oh, you mean they didn't notice my feminine side. (Laughter)
Q: ...Most of these new generation truck drivers today lack the benefits of growing up with hands on experience. What advice would you give to them?
A: Well, I don't know. We grew up so different. We didn't know we were broke. I mean, our parents told us they were broke but we never really realized it as kids because there was always food and we had clothes and lots of stuff and I was probably 30 years old before I realized how broke we were. My Mom died when I was 12 years old and I was the oldest...and Dad worked on the Railroad and he farmed so he really had no time for watching kids because he had to watch cows and pigs and make sure the Railroad kept working. So, I was in charge. He worked hard at finding a woman but I don't know how many women would want to come live in a shack out in the bush with no running water...(laughter)....I mean you got to work hard. Especially when you have as many kids as I do!
Q: As much as one can relax driving on ice with a camera man next to him, do you find some solitude and relaxation getting back to work in your truck and driving?
A: Well, yeah, I get out on the winter roads, and there's no cell phones because there is no coverage out there and it's just a bunch of truck drivers, and none of the "BS" or politics of having 2, 3 or 400 drivers on the same road. We just sort of slow down because we hit the ice and it's 25 km an hour, some places it's 35 and empty it's 55, maybe, depending on what the rules are. You just have to let your heart slow down and you've got 2 months just one trip at a time. Just do your job and help out where you can. It is hard. Sometimes it takes me a month to recover. Some guys in the old days when we didn't have as many rules, they'd get finished March 30th or April 15th depending on the winter, and some of them took until August to recover. From being tired and the cold, you know, it's a tough job. At the same time, some guys hate it and some guys love it. Some guys can't stand being on the ice and some guys don't like the slow speed. Some guys get out there and like the weather. They like man and machine against the elements.
We drive in places where very few people, out of 7 billion on the planet, get to see. If you wanted to see it you'd have to hire a guide and spend ten thousand bucks to go out there in the summer time. I'm driving out there every day! I'm never gonna see anything more beautiful than what I've seen already. I might see something as beautiful but you're never gonna see anything more beautiful, I don't think, unless it's God. Sometimes we get so caught up in our little life that we don't appreciate the good things we come across. On the other hand, it's a tough life and a lot of drivers have a lot of problems. We're away from our family. You leave home and your wife and kids manage with out you. When you come home you think everything is the same as when you went out the door but everything is not the same. They're happy to see you for a day or two but then things get a little tense because they were getting along good without you and now you want to come along and make rules!? You freeze [things in your mind] when you leave but while you're gone everything is changing. So, as a soldier, as a truck driver, an oil worker, many of these jobs you come back and many times, depending on the characters of the people involved, sometimes it's really tough. It's a job where, I guess just like all of society should, we should try to hold each other help and help each other out.
Q: Season 8 is bringing some changes. There is a separation of ranks and in addition to your normal challenges, you now seem to be challenging each other. Are you welcoming these new changes or are they causing some anxiety?
A: Well, I'm over 60, and the hole ice road trucker thing is, we go to Alaska to work, we go to Inuvik to work, we go to White Horse...Every time you go to a new area to go to a new job they take you and they test your driving abilities and there are different hours of service. The older we get the more we don't like change. Just changing trucks can be a hassle (laughter). And it is competitive. I've always been competitive. You find there are some guys that you never really compete with because they're not very competitive but other guys you just find there is something about them and you that you always have to compete. Of course, there are also changes every time we do a new season. There are always new camera guys, new photographers, new bosses. It's a little bit of a circus. You got all these people and you gotta watch out that you don't run them over! They're not cognizant that this truck is a hundred thousand pounds with a trailer behind it and it can't stop. It's not a car. It's not just something you're filming that isn't going to hurt you. If you're laying out there with a camera and you get your head under a wheel, you know, it's gonna get squashed. So, you always have the stress that you gotta be responsible for all these people that are filming you. It's a little bit more of a job than just driving a truck. On the other hand, I get bored easily so change makes things a little more exciting. Something to look forward to and something to keep you on your toes.