2008-10-25

Which is the business end of a screwdriver please?

As the autocross season is cooling down for the winter I am using the time to tend to oh so many needs of my car. Today's project was a trip out to a pick-and-pull junkyard, armed with a bag of tools, to see if I could find some random parts for my car.

Mostly, I was looking for plastic clips that hold trunk liner and carpeting and such, but also weather stripping, maybe a power antenna, and whatever else my Bonnie car could use.

I never have been to a junkyard before, so I did not quite know what levels of desolation and sordidness to expect. It was actually quite civilized, once you got over the initial shock of seeing all these car carcasses being pulled apart by people. Once, these cars were new and shiny, and somebody took care of them, and now they ended up on this lot, lost and forgotten, and even the management does not know what exactly they have out there.

Cars were sorted by make, somewhat, but all imports were in one section. Just like one would expect, most cars were the usual sort: two-door sedans, minivans, and such, the ones that would not stand out of a crowd. After a bit, I came across a Mazda van whose front end was crumpled and full of dirt, like it came off road and into the ditch. The windshield was smashed in and airbags were popped out. Driver-side airbag had stains of blood on it. There was a music CD on the floor and some other items that were left behind as the car was abandoned. Looking at the van was like looking at a snapshot from somebody's life.

I walked on. Most cars on the lot weren't crashed, just junked because of age, and they looked the part. All the easily removed parts like gas caps were usually gone when I got to the cars. After a while, I found the only Miata they had in the lot. A first generation, classic red one, with regular suspension and manual transmission. It was crashed. Badly. Maybe even rolled. Windshield frame and convertible top were bent badly, passenger side was badly dented, as well as the rear. Even though not a direct donor for Bonnie, many parts from this car could be used, so I went to work. Seats and center console were gone, as was the shift boot and radio. I pulled some screws and plastic clips for my car, and then it hit me that a fully intact tail light assembly was still on the poor red Miata. New, the lens costs upwards of $100, and used can cost up to $80. Given how badly the car was mangled, it was almost a miracle that the assembly was still in good shape.

After the lens, I removed the left sideview mirror from the car. Passenger-side one was broken off. Gas cap was gone, but I picked up the oil filler cap and door-ajar sensors, plus some smaller things like light bulbs, fuses, hose clamps and such.

All in all, it was shaping up well, and after I picked what I thought was still usable from the red Miata, I moved on. There were no other Miatas out there, so it was time to check out.

The most expensive item on the list was unsurprisingly the tail light. My total came up to just under $40.

Of course, not all of my visit was smooth sailing, and how could it be, with 99.9% of everybody at the junkyard being males. I did my best to ignore stares and comments so far, but standing in the checkout line, one guy got my goat. He turned to me and said, pointing and the parts I was holding: "Did you take these off yourself, honey?" My response was: "No, my boyfriend did, he's just not here." It took the guy about two minutes to understand that it was sarcasm... So he turns back to me and tries to (what he thinks is) flirt with me again, at which point I tell him to please mind his own business and leave me alone. He went to lick his ego wounds by making fun of how I "just went off for no reason" to his friend.

What he did not know that I had to exercise enormous amounts of self-control not to say: "Oh, I did not know I needed a penis to hold a screwdriver." But I digress.

Back home, I used some of the clips and screws to secure the diverse trim parts on my car, and put the rest up for sale on eBay. Hopefully I'll make the $40 back to pay for my trip to the junkyard. Anything beyond that is pure cherry on top.

Oh, and next time, I wish I could bring a mean rottweiler with me, just to keep the rude guys at bay.