Just in time for Halloween, NBC News’ China-centric news blog “Behind the Wall” is running a piece on the removal of a Chinese “Zombie car.” The car, actually a small blue van, was left in a roadside parking lot just over a year ago and has since been consumed by a voracious ivy plant. When photos of the plant covered car became an internet sensation earlier this year, the police became involved but had little luck tracing the current owner. Eventually the decision was made to impound the vehicle, but by then the vines were so thick that local authorities determined it would be easier to haul the entire mess away in one fell swoop. The end result makes an interesting photo.
There is something sad about an abandoned car. How a vehicle goes from the object of a person’s desire to a worthless piece of trash is an amazing journey. Think about the money and effort involved in purchasing a car. The average person struggles for years to find the money to make the down payment, then years more to service the loan. Along the way there is gas, oil, tires, batteries, tune-ups and eventually parts and repairs, but in return for all that your car gives its entire life to your service. It is, at first, a status symbol, the object of your neighbors’ envy, then a faithful servant that carries you on every errand. Later it becomes that part of your family that carried you to the hospital when your son or daughter was born and eventually that aging but stalwart companion that carried you across the country on your family vacations.
Sooner or later something new catches your eye, your situation changes, or the repair bills begin to mount up so high that you decide a change is in order. In most cases people trade their old car in for another and, although they are thrilled to have something new, they are saddened to see the old one go. Still, the idea that the old car may find some service for another family, may live to serve that family as it has served your own, helps soften the blow. I know that’s how I felt when I traded the keys to my Ford Freestar for the ones to our new T&C but I walked away from the relationship knowing that I did my best to ensure that it would live on for some time to come.
I can’t look at an old, abandoned car without imagining how it came to be there, the people it carried and the lives it touched. In my mind, abandoning your vehicle is a despicable thing to do and it reminds me of an old folk tale called “The Bell of Atri.” Of course I know a car is not a living, breathing thing but as a faithful servant it deserves better. If it can’t go on, then at the very least take it to the recycler and let it start the process anew. Everyone deserves justice, do they not?
Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.