Collision Alley 

Every morning, I park my car in the same spot and walk a block to my Long Island Railroad stop. The block I walk down has four auto collision shops, two on each side facing each other. The street is lined from end to end with car wrecks, in varying degrees of disrepair or totality.

The thing I always notice is how wide the assortment of vehicles is. There are mangled Mazda’s, busted Benz’s, crunched up Cadillacs and f***ed up Fords. There are luxury SUVs, old pickup trucks, convertibles with their wheels bent in sideways and Jeeps with their windshields smashed in. There are probably a hundred wrecked vehicles, of every type of make and model, parked along Collision Alley on any given day.

It’s not depressing to walk through this iconography of other peoples’ problems. It’s actually quite helpful. Every morning, I am reminded that everyone gets a little beat up from time to time. Most of the owners of these cars were not drunk driving or racing recklessly. They were probably headed to work or driving a carpool or running errands. Minding their own business. Some of them maybe were not so innocent. Doesn’t matter, they all ended up here regardless.

Some of them are wealthy people whose lives are orderly and otherwise pleasant. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop their Lexus from having its side quarter-panel caved in. Some of the owners probably couldn’t afford to have this damage done to the car that gets them to work. And yet, here their cars are…

Every day we go out into the world to do what we’re supposed to be doing. Good things happen to us, or we make them happen. Bad things happen too. Sometimes we deserve it because of how we’re going about our day, usually we don’t. It’s unavoidable, in any case. Rich, poor, working, unemployed, black, white, Catholic, Jewish, young, old – everyone is in line for something, one of these days. And if the worst that happens is some damage to our cars, then we’re the lucky ones. We get to take our little beating and move along.

This is a worthwhile thought to keep in mind.

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