Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Junkyard Amigos

I'm not always a sociable person, and often prefer sitting around writing or watching a show to hanging out with people. Even with exercising, I prefer individual sports rather than team sports. (Plus, I'm pretty bad at most team sports.)

Despite that, I still enjoy the small interactions we all have with other people. I'm referring to the talk-with-someone-in-the-checkout-line type of interactions. The kind where you meet someone, have a short social dialog, then you're on your way, probably to never meet again.

I used to own an old Saturn car that we kept for about eighteen years before finally trading it in. It had those strange automatic seat belts that most people hated, and one day, a seatbelt motor broke. So I headed to the junkyard to find a used one.

The boneyard I went to wasn't the type I used to buy parts at when I was in high school. You know the kind—where rusting heaps of vehicles are piled all over in the mud and you're pretty much on your own. No, this one was lined up in neat rows. Each car was propped up on bare rims. Each type of car had its own section. It was like a Walmart, but with better quality merchandise. Even the "aisles" were lined with packed gravel.

I made my way to the Saturn department and immediately found a car with a working seatbelt. I'd brought screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and a hammer. But I didn't have a star-drive socket. I noticed another man nearby who seemed to be browsing, rather than looking for any particular parts. And I also noticed he had a big tool case with him.

I asked if he had a star-drive socket. He appeared to be from Mexico and didn't speak much English, but he was happy to let me borrow his tools. In fact, he set down his expensive tool set—probably worth several hundred dollars—and walked away looking for other things while I took the seat belt motor out. I was amazed he'd trust a complete stranger with his valuable tools.

He soon came back and found a truck right next to the Saturn with some parts he wanted, so he started removing them. Another guy came by and needed to get to a car on the opposite side of a nearby trench, and he asked us how to get over the trench. Me and my new best friend looked at each other with "This guy is obviously a newbie" looks. My amigo pointed out the end of the trench where you could walk over it, and the other man made his way across.

I got the seatbelt motor and thanked my amigo for his help, then went on my way. I don't know that I really learned anything from this brief experience, or even what I'm trying to convey in this posting. But as I left, I can say my memory of the junkyard was definitely made more positive because of help from a stranger.
Fixing the seatbelt turned into a whole-family project

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