I guess every town has a wrecking yard filled with rusting hulks of vehicles. And I guess most people think of them as blights on the scenery. But I find them rather poignant.
Think of those cars. Once upon a time, they were new. They rolled off the assembly line in their shiny paint and sparkling chrome. Or maybe they were from an era where chrome was not used. But they were ‘hopeful things’. The factory’s hopes were pinned on selling a lot of them. The dealers’ hopes were also to sell a lot of them. The buyer hoped to get a new car. Some of these cars were magnificent. Others were boring in the extreme. But they all had something in common: Someone went to a dealership, and out of all of the available cars, they bought that one.
Why did they buy them? When my dad bought a new 1985 Chevy Sprint, it was because it got 50 mpg. It was a logical choice in a time when gas prices were rising quickly. When he bought his new 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 (‘7 Litre’, as it proudly proclaimed on its front fenders) with the Police Interceptor package, fuel economy was the farthest thing from his mind. He wanted a muscle car. My mom chose her 1966 MGB roadster because she liked British sports cars. She was going to get an E-Type Jag, but she had two kids and needed a back seat. (Yes, there was a time when I would fit in the back seat of an MGB!) My first new car was my 1999 Jeep Cherokee. The 911SC was fun, but I needed something that could haul my stuff.
Did people buy that car because it was efficient? Or did they buy that car because of its power? Its comfort? Its handling? Because ‘Aw, it’s so cute!’? Did they buy them because their old cars were worn out? Were their decisions pragmatic? Or did they ‘fall in love’ with that car and just had to have it? Or was it a combination of many factors such as price, economy, styling, etc.? For whatever reason, people bought these cars. They went into a dealership and in many cases made an emotional attachment to that car.
And they drove it. They smelled the new-car smells. They proudly showed it to their friends. They went on adventures. Maybe this car took them to Yosemite, or maybe they made love in it. Mostly, it got them from Point A to Point B.
And then things started to happen. They had a collision. The water pump went out. This went wrong, or that went wrong. Maybe it was just that another car caught their eyes and they wanted it. The car gets listed in The Recycler, The Pennysaver, the local paper, or it gets traded in on the new car. And someone else buys it. They don’t care about the problems. Or if they do, they figure they can live with them. Maybe they can’t afford a new car, or maybe this one is ‘special’ to them. There are as many reasons people buy used cars as there are that they buy new ones.
And so it goes. And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes, goes, goes, goes, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… [sub]Whoops. There I go, quoting short stories! [/sub] Older and older the car gets. A lucky few – very few – will be restored to their former glory; but most will continue to deteriorate. Through one owner or many, through collisions or malfunctions, they’ll eventually wind up rusting in a field or at the dismantler. Dismantler. The Wrecking Yard. Here they will be torn apart without pity, their usable components stripped for resale, and their metal shells crushed to be melted down for other uses.
This car was ‘loved’ once. Now it’s a hulk waiting to be turned into a cube of metal that will be thrown with other cubes of metal into a furnace. There’s something sad about that.