To lump or not to lump, that is the question

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Updated Jul 22, 2013
“Hi. I’m here to be your lumper.”“Hi. I’m here to be your lumper.”


The word itself is as ugly as the practice. I’ve been told they’re no longer called “lumpers.” They’re now called “freight handlers.” You can call ’em The Queen of England, for all I care, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re extortionists.

We don’t do a lot of grocery loads, due to the unnecessary amount of bull ca-ca that comes with them. A grocery load is almost always one of those “appointment” loads. You know, the ones the warehouse sets and then laughs at when you get there on time to deliver. This is what happens when we show up at 7:45 for an 8:30 unload.

“Yes sir, I have an appointment for an 8:30 unload.”

“What’s the date on that?”

“July 17. Today.”

“Yeah, well, scribble the 17 out and put a 19 there and go park in the corral to wait to be called.”

“Uh, is there going to be a two-day wait on this unload?”

(Maniacal laughter) “Hell, there may be a three-day wait, we have no idea! We just put those times on the paperwork to amuse ourselves! We have 20 slips and 4,000 trucks scheduled for them today. And you get to pay a lumper to unload ya’!”

This is where I would open the trailer doors, take the load locks off, and back up as fast as I could get my old tractor to go towards the dock. I’d slam on brakes (or let the DOT bumper slam on the brakes for me), and whatever sailed out of the back of the trailer would be the delivery. We have established the reasons I don’t actually drive a truck.

Grocery loads suck.

The first time I experienced a lumper fee was in Denver, at the Safeway warehouse. Safeway posted at #63 on the Forbes 500 list last year, with a total profit of somewhere north of $43 million. That’s profit, not revenue. Not one red cent of that money would have been generated without truckers, and yet they’re treated with utter disrespect and blatant contempt by the warehouses they deliver to this company for. How is this OK?

George came back to the truck after going inside to establish paperwork, and instead of getting in to wait for an unload, he grabbed a Comdata check.

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“What’s up? You gonna bribe someone to get us unloaded?”

“You have no idea how close you are to being right.”

“Yikes. That’s the growly face. Who’s getting ready to be beat down by the trucker?”

“It’s very much the other way around.”

“What the hell, Parker? What’s up? I’ve never seen you so mad about freight.”

“It’s best I don’t tell you right now, because you’ll make a scene and it’ll just take longer to get away from here.”

“I promise I won’t make a scene.”

“You’ll make a scene. There’s no doubt.”

“I have to pee really bad. I probably won’t make a scene.”

“We have to pay a $215 lumper fee to get this trailer unloaded.”

“I’m probably going to make a scene. And wet my pants. What’s a lumper?”

And thus, I was inducted into the halls of the thousands who have been abused by lumpers. I’m going to start a support group called “We Lived Through Lumping and Didn’t Have a Stroke.” We will band together and lament the fact we didn’t have strokes, because after a good lumping, you deserve a stroke. It would be a nice rest from delivering grocery loads and a much more preferable way to spend your time.

“Tell that lumper guy he has to come over here to get the check.”

“Hell no. What are you going to do?”

“I’m gonna grab his ass and snatch him up into the truck, hold him hostage.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

“No. It would not.”

“I’m going to write a story about it. Tell him he dies in my story.”

“I will not tell him he dies in your story.”

“You secretly love lumpers.”

“I do not love lumpers. Would you please go away?”

“Oh that’s good. I’m going to use it in my story. You’re going to be all torn about me kidnapping a lumper, because you secretly love them, and that will be one of your pleading lines. This is good stuff!”

It was at this point I had to flee for my life to the bunk because he secretly loves lumpers. But I got a good story out of it.

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