A couple weeks ago, the neighbor kid crashed his Ford Explorer on the way home from Owasso. Someone ran a stop sign, he tried his best and managed to slow down a good bit, but he didn't quite miss 'em. Thankfully, nobody got hurt and the owner of the other car had good insurance, which provided a rental car and hauled the almost-driveable Ford Explorer away to a storage facility "while they decide which way to go." I'm not here to bitch about insurance companies, but we're talkin' about a highschool kid who was makin' payments on a cheap-but-decent older-ish Ford Explorer -- it wasn't a new car, but it was reliable and he liked it and it really wasn't crashed all that hard.
We were all standin' around at work talkin' about it Wednesday afternoon, 'cause he'd called us to ask about the place where they'd towed his Explorer. Oh, That Other Auction Company, the one we don't use. We have an account with one of the local insurance auctions, it's where I got the limo, which has led to my habit of checking the listings every few days or so. I look through That Other Auction Company's listings once in a while, but I don't have a habit of it 'cause I know I can't log in and bid, so there's really no point.
The auction company that we use has their website set up where users can search for specific vehicles, and if a given car is on the property, it shows in the inventory -- if it's ready to sell, it'll show an auction date and location, if it's not, it'll show a reason why, something like "hold" or "need title" or whatever. Apparently That Auction Company That We Don't Use doesn't work that way, they only show the cars that are ready to sell. I had hoped to get a look at the Explorer just to see how bad it was damaged just because it didn't really seem like the insurance company was giving the kid a fair deal… I didn't have any luck, but I did end up skimming through a few listings. After I'd checked out a few trucks and looked through all the Towncars, DeVilles, and Fleetwoods just to see if there were any hearses in the bunch, I clicked the little button with the calendar on it and scrolled down to the Tulsa list.
Their auction in Tulsa was on Friday, and the list was set up a lot like the other auction company -- list of cars, thumbnail photo on the left side. I looked through a few cars and trucks, just clicking the ones that looked interesting for whichever reason. I guess I was about a quarter of the way through the list of a couple hundred cars when the though hit me: I wonder what ever came of the car that Kenny & Debbie crashed over here on West 61st Street… I figured I'd finish looking through the rest of the sale listing and then search for Toyota Solaras just to see if it turned up, ya know, unless I got distracted with the phones or something and forgot.
A little further down the list, there was a blue Toyota Solara with a junk title and a biohazard flag.
Oh shit. There's that sick, sad feeling, just like when that "Estate Sale" sign turned up on the corner at 61st & Union.
Now, when I used to see 'em every once in a while, they had a white minivan and a couple burgundy cars. I never saw the Toyota except the little bit of silvery blue that could be seen in the spill of the firetrucks' lights on the television news…
I grew up in the salvage business, I've seen a lot of crashed cars. I've seen some really really bad ones where somebody shows up asking if they can get their stuff out of the car -- even when the cars have the unholy shit knocked out of 'em, I guess I just always harbor the hope that the people might've made it out alright somehow. I'm sure we've had several that nobody walked away from; but there's always that chance, 'cause we really never know, we don't get any backstory unless we buy it from a family member. With auction cars, anything could've happened; driver thrown clear by the impact, car unoccupied at time of impact, who knows, there's always a chance somebody made it out of a really bad one. I walked (eh, stumbled) away from Ford Truck that looked like nobody got out, it can happen, so there's no way to tell.
When we can know what happened, that makes it completely different.
When belonged to someone we know, that also makes a big difference.
Even without a definite identification on the car, it was a silvery blue Toyota Solara, it was hit really hard, potential fatality hard, and it had been hacked up with the jaws. When I saw the wheelchair still in the back seat, I got that sick and sad feeling even worse -- yip, that's their car. I guess there wouldn't have been any real reason to get it out of there, or maybe the car was wadded up so bad it wouldn't come loose, whatever, I'd say it was a sure sign it was the same car.
When I wrote that post, "The Shit You Been Through," I mentioned having questions that I might not ever know the answers to. Seeing the pictures of the car only left me with one really big question. To crash a car that hard, it takes tremendous speed, way more speed than you'd see from normal folks, driving at night on a little two-lane street among houses with a "day school" on one side and a park with a jogging trail on the other side, having just come through a major intersection with a stoplight. They were almost there, two more turns and then into the driveway, that close to home. To tear the car up that bad, it must've been haulin' serious ass. Haulin'. Serious. Ass.
None of the news articles mentioned who was driving, but one did say there was no evidence of involvement of drugs or alcohol.
My one big question: What if it was that whole Toyota throttle thing? What if…
I guess where I was going with that is that when we hear about that whole throttle thing on the news, it's scary, but it's not personal, it's just somebody on the news. When it's someone you've spent time with, it's heartbreaking, even if you kinda lost touch over the years. It's not just somebody on the news, it's somebody who handed me a cold beer and then made me laugh 'til I couldn't drink it without choking.
It's never too late to send a quick hello to someone from your past -- because when they're gone, they're always gone too soon.