As the driver of an 18-wheel tanker hauling food grade products, John Ogren is familiar with “surge.” He might be hauling anything from liquid chocolate to grape juice to soybean oil; it doesn’t make much difference when he needs to stop his truck. At that moment, several thousand pounds of liquid in the unbaffled tank of his truck comes surging forward, shaking his cab in a dramatic way. (Check out John’s YouTube video at https://youtu.be/eq6JyrvfpDg.) According to John, you can minimize the impact of surge with some driving maneuvers, but you can’t eliminate it. It comes with driving a tanker truck.
John Ogren has been driving for Prime for three years. Although he initially started as a long-haul driver, he quickly moved to driving a designated route hauling food grade products. Initially his schedule took him home mostly on the weekends. Since he’s moved to northern Indiana, he’s home nearly every night. “I only slept in my truck two times in the last month,” John claims.
Life on the road as a long haul driver can be difficult, but life as a regional driver is not without its challenges. “I never know,” John says, “exactly when I’ll be called into work the next day. I find out my schedule the night before and I may discover I have to leave home at 4 a.m. This makes it difficult for my family to count on me to do most things any night of the week. I may think I’ll be home, but I can get held up in some way that puts me home later than I thought. When that happens, I have a short turn-around time before I get rested up and get back out on the road.”
Although he no longer drives over-the-road like he did when he first started with Prime, John does know something about trying to stay connected with his family when he can’t be there in person. This is especially important to him as the father of a 17-year-old daughter who enters her senior year in high school in August 2018. Like many dads, he wants to be there for her and her Betty, his wife of 20 years.
John knows a thing or two about “surge” in his personal life—that unexpected force threatening to knock you down when circumstances bring you to an unexpected halt. He didn’t always drive a truck. He started out in radio and spent 17 years on the air mostly in the area of sports casting. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, John knew he had to do something different to support his family, so he got his CDL and began driving a school bus. He soon figured out he could supplement his income if he drove the charter bus to school athletic events and served as the sports broadcaster for that activity. Although he enjoyed using his talents in many ways, when John became aware of an opportunity to have one job instead of three, as a driver for Prime he jumped at the chance.
Life can shake a person up at times in unexpected ways. John has found staying connected with his wife and daughter essential to staying grounded. He talks with Betty when he’s on the road and texts with his daughter Anna. He says he’s had to increase the data usage on his phone, but he sees this cost as critical to staying on top of communication with his family.
Just as you can’t prevent surge, you also can’t prevent the headaches and hassles of life on the road. However, staying in touch with what is happening and having realistic expectations make a big difference when it comes to minimizing the impact of surge and other times when “life happens.”
John Ogren is a driver for Prime Inc. in Springfield, MO.