I had a massive flashback on Sunday. A flashback to the days of running a beat-up old car. Spending weekends underneath it, fixing something or modifying something else. A flashback of trips to the car wrecking yard, taking home something that ‘might just fit’, returning later to find something that’ll ‘surely bolt straight on’, before finally fixing and refitting the original part.
I run a much more modern car these days, but it didn’t stop the WoF guys from pulling me up on a cracked brake light. Being a Sunday, the only place open was the post-apocalyptic Pick-a-Part. This place is a self-service parts yard. You rock on up with your tools, find a car vaguely similar to the one you need, and go to town. Anything you can drag away with you they’ll charge you for. The good part is they charge something like $18 for a tail light that would be $50 anywhere else.
Pick-a-Part is like something straight out of Mad Max. The gatehouse is barred and chained, the walls are made from scrap corrugated iron, and the yard is bare dirt covered in cars sitting jacked up on piles of disused wheel rims. On a cold Autumn day, the wind whistling through the iron fencing and the shambling, boilersuit-clad scavengers really added to the ambience.
Huge signs proclaimed the “Yard Rules”. Such gems as “No children in the yard or left unattended in the car park”; “No gas torches or plasma cutters”; and “No theft: we’ll check your pockets and socks when you leave!”.
The final touch of apocalyptical sweetness is the exit door. Once I paid for my shoddy wares, the toothless lady in the gatehouse untied a length of wire from the leg of her desk. Initially puzzled, I realised her diabolical genius when I followed the wire snaking up past the payment window, out a hole in the wall, and tired securely around the exit gate, holding it shut. In my mind I pictured some greasy, penniless scavenger, frantically dragging half an engine towards the gate, only to be foiled by Ma Dixie’s security wire of doooooom!