Thursday, March 09, 2006
I sit in a filthy scrap yard and wait my turn to pull on the scales. Nothing of beauty exists here. It is a place of dust, dirt, and damaged things. Nothing here has any worth other than to be melted down. Dirty men plod through the piles of debris that are brought in one truckload at a time – sweaty, dirty, hard, tired men. Men who stare without seeing their surroundings. Very few women ever appear, those that do are regarded as intruders, nothing of beauty is allowed here. Jagged teeth of metal reach out from every direction hungry to rip and tear into flesh, clothing, and tires. Steel toed boots, long pants, and leather gloves are in fashion here. Those who enter without them soon realize the folly of their choice. The only shade comes from one tall pine tree that towers over the scale house surveying its domain; I wonder how it exists. And endless parade of battered trucks of all makes, colors, and sizes makes its way past the scales and down to the bottom of the yard. Coming here often enough causes young men to age; backs ache, hands grow weary, and legs tremble at the strain. I wait to unload my truck and collect my few dollars that will put gas in the truck so I can drive for another load. Everywhere there are men taking ratchet-straps, ropes and bungee cords off their loads so they can be unloaded. Cigarette butts and tobacco juice covers the ground. Men laugh at jokes that should not be repeated as they light more cigarettes and stuff more tobacco under their lips. The cranes groan and strain to move useless objects to their final destination – the shredder. Elsewhere men grunt and groan to toss old engine blocks into a pile. Cars are carried to be crushed – someone’s dreams, their pride and joy, now a shattered mass of twisted steel and broken glass. The air is foul with diesel fumes. Every movement brings a cloud of dust that chokes everything. At times when it rains the whole yard becomes a swamp that tries to trap every one and everything that enters, but not today – today there is just dust. But as I sit here and wait a breeze sweeps through the piles of junk. Suddenly I see a movement on the road leading to the crusher. It is tall and fast. It swirls and dances past the men. A dirt devil. Suddenly my eyes forget their surroundings. I am no longer in the dismal piles of rubbish. I am a child again. I am running after the swirling mass. I hold my arms over my head and skip along as the air whirls around me. I dance with it turning and twisting to stay in the middle. Then my turn comes. The scales are open. As pull my battered old truck up the wind dies down. The dancing phantasm leaves as quickly as it arrived. All that is left is the junk, the men, and the dirt.