When we were at the self-service junkyard last, I checked in the trunk of a Camry. I’m a snoopy sort by nature, and I like to imagine what the lives of the people who owned these doomed hoopties were like, present when the cars took their last compression strokes out on the road, as free vehicles.
Within the trunk of the Camry, I found a muffin tray. Strange, I imagined. I turned to my travelling companion, Mike, he of the impractical applications of metallurgy department. I asked him about it.
We thought for a long time.
At last he spoke: “Maybe it’s for traction in the winter?”
We considered this. Again, we thought, minutes passing in silence as a nearby Somalian slide-hammered the radiator support free from a rolled Suzuki SX4 and reached hungrily for the mounts pinning its delectable shortblock to the subframe.
I said: “Aren’t those trays covered in teflon?”
With that, I checked the front side. It was demolished, smashed back to the A-pillar on one side. Both airbags were deployed, and the passenger seat broken free of its moorings. A Toyota safety engineer would be both pleased and disappointed.
It was one of those perfect junkyard moments. A life in miniature, discovered like archaeologists from the future looking at the mistakes of the past. On that hair trigger between laughing and crying.
Above us, a dead sky gazed upon our struggles imperiously.