I used to work in a junkyard. Junkyards are the book of Ecclesiastes written in the right hand side of the periodic table. A quarter square mile of “Woe, woe, woe” traced in rust.
There is a particular tragedy in a machine that has lost its usefulness. A poignancy. I recall looking across a sea of used to be and thinking about the passion that was once there.
We Americans have a relationship with automobiles that borders on the obscene. It is a Geigeresque incestuous biomechanical symbiosis. Consider… we might not be shallow enough to define a man by the car he drives, but it seldom occurs to us that a real man might not drive one at all.
It is more than transportation, it is empowerment. The driver’s license is the rite of passage. A bar mitsva , the day in which a child becomes man enough to wrap himself in a deadly weapon and do battle on the pitiless asphalt.
To return to my opening statement, to look at it with fresh and mythic eyes:
I used to work in a junkyard.
Think of this not as a place for machines that no longer function within acceptable tolerances, but a world of dreams gone flat.
This one here, a 1986 Mustang– not just steel and chromium and fiberglass, but the first electric touch of a girl’s breast under a boy’s trembling fingers. Dead now. Rust and an oil stain, nothing more.
This 91 Caravan, it’s a place for a family to grow that somehow didn’t happen, despite the very finest cake and a magnum of champagne. Cracked upholstery fading in the sunlight through a dusty window. Underneath the back seat is a dropped toy still wondering what happened to its child.
’78 Malibu, differential-deep in dirt. Once upon a time she thought she could quit her job and start her own business, write off her millage on her taxes and be somebody. Robbed for parts, one door hanging askew, and a bright orange “X” on the hood says the next time the crusher comes by this one is a memory. If anyone does remember.
Why am I telling you all this? What am I trying to say? What’s the point?
It’s this. I am not a junked car. Not yet.