Monday, November 22, 2004

Where Cars Go to Die

I sat in the car for the first two wrecking yards. They were the kind that take the parts off for you, clean them up and charge a nice premium for the trouble. But they didn’t have what Cy was looking for, so we drove farther north to the Pull a Part wrecking yard. This time Cy invited me to come with him, to experience the shangrila that is a wrecking yard. I was skeptical.

In the car on the way there, Cy spoke of his preference for female-run wrecking yards. According to him, the women take more time to check and double check for the requested part and even share some insight into what is really needed. I tried to imagine running a place like that. Entering the Pull a Part, we discovered two women behind the counter. I waited to be blown away by their kindness and caring for the thrifty car part consumer, but was instead met with a dismissive air and snappish tones. I could tell that they hated their jobs, and I wasn’t surprised. Our hands were stamped and we were sent into the yard to search for our quarry.

I was the only woman out there, and I stood out like a sore thumb. Luckily Cy had cautioned me to wear jeans and sneakers, but I lacked the seeming requisite uniform of all the other wrecking yard junkies – Carharts, workboots, and a worn trucker cap, oh and apparently beer cans accompany that uniform because they were everywhere. I was even lucky enough to come across an unopened can of Miller Lite. Tempting, but I passed.

It was a cold day, and there were mud puddles everywhere. I just wanted to find the part and get back to the truck, but Cy was in heaven. So as he went on about the engines and cooed about fixing up something like that or that over there, I imagined the cars and trucks as they must have been decades ago before coming to this automobile graveyard and being propped up on stacks of rusted wheels waiting for part after part to find new life on a more tenderly attended relative. The Firebird there might have been a sixteenth birthday present for someone’s firstborn son. Oh the trips that old VW bus must have driven.

We eventually found the mirror he was looking for on an old Chevy truck, the same truck being picked over by a troupe of three Carhart-wearing, screwdriver-bearing part seekers who seemed startled to see me. They snuck furtive glances my way and the loud and boisterous laughter we heard on approach has dissipated. They were gone before we had been there a full minute. Cy made a remark about my having that affect on all the guys. Yep, I always scare them away. He worked on the mirror, then looked at the truck, kicking at the rusted fender, trying to close the hood, poking at the engine. The truck shook when he kicked it and I pondered the dangers of wrecking yard diving. Of course Cy had a story about a man who died while trying to retrieve an engine. Something fell on him – the truck, the engine, the crane, don’t know which, but horrible all the same. Could you imagine dying in a wrecking yard?

Cy was proud to be the one to introduce me to my first wrecking yard, though I am more inclined to say my only wrecking yard. I am more of a Schuck’s kind of girl, though I will admit that I have never stepped foot in one of those either. Taking care of cars is man work, though Cy seeks to change my views on that. He wants to have me fixing and chatting about cars and engines like one of the guys. Somehow I don’t see that happening, but it is fun to humor him.
- Crazy/Hip Blog-Mamas +