I really love going to my local junkyard. It’s a you-pick, like all the good ones are, so it’s both a good morning of exercise as well as a chance to shoot the poop with your fellow wrench. There’s sort of a camaraderie among the scavengers who roost here; you get to know the same people, even if you never learn their names. Last week, the team of Filipino engine-swappers who harvest every Toyota in the yard lent me a ratchet when mine exploded.
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It’s all so very egalitarian, a group of common folk allied against a common enemy: entropy. Although it’s never particularly friendly, it still feels a bit like a real society has developed. There’s technical experts, grease monkeys, and guys who can carry a whole lot of engine blocks on their backs. Everyone gives in a little bit and they get a little bit back. It feels right - moral, somehow. Also, occasionally, we pocket a few relays because fuck the police.

The reason why I keep banging on about the social harmony of our great wrecking-yard utopia is that it is even more abrupt when someone violates the unspoken code. On the same visit that I was helped by the gang of engine-swappers, I also came out to the parking lot to see that someone had helped themselves to parts off of my Volare. It seems I had parked a little bit too close to the scrap-intake area, was the explanation of the happy front desk clerk who collected fifty perfectly-good dollars for my grille and the remaining intact door mirror.

It could have been a lot worse - I’d heard stories of guys whose Suburbans ended up completely stripped to the bone like piranhas - but at least I was in the perfect place to pick up some more parts. I headed back into the yard, and followed the path that was nearly muscle memory by now.

The junkyard society had smiled upon me once again: There was a Volare waiting for the crusher that was in way better shape than my car. All it needed were a few trivial parts, like the entire engine and a floor. The things other people throw away. I started stripping my own car in the parking lot and smuggling parts back into the junkyard. That evening, I drove out with a much-improved car.

Like I said, you get back what you smuggle in.

- Seat Safety Switch