Both of the previous entries in the Crimes Against Machinery category here have covered the topic as it applies to automobiles. In particular, it has covered the topic as it applies to exorbitantly expensive automobiles. We lovers of machinery are not so limited in our tastes, however! We become indignant at the mistreatment of even much more mundane artifacts. Even machines which have reached the end of their designed life are worthy of respect and proper treatment.
Last week, the nation of India was host to a story to make any technology enthusiast distressed. The citizens of Mumbai awoke to discover a decommissioned Boeing 737 sitting in the road. After having its tail and wings removed, including the engines, it had been placed on a trailer to be transported to a flight school for use in training air crews. However, the driver took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. Faced with an overpass too low to go under, and the thirty meter length of the aircraft prohibiting any likelihood of backing up safely, the driver simply abandoned the load in the middle of the street.
The plane was left to languish for days as nobody took responsibility for it. The story eventually made the news after local residents became upset that the huge plane was interfering with local businesses. The municipal government was criticized for its apparent lack of interest in removing the plane. Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the plane vanished. Nobody seems to have any idea where it went, or who was responsible for moving it.
I’m left saddened by this whole sorry affair. A plane like this is a large, complicated piece of machinery, which a large number of people spent a considerable time building. Given that a 737 would be expected to spend decades in service before it was decommissioned, this is a plane which had given a great deal of service. After years of hard work without complaint, it was left to the tender mercies of a city government desperate to remove it by any means necessary in order to quiet a quite legitimately angry populace. The thought of a crowd of city workers taking sawzalls to a stranded plane leaves me with the same feeling I imagine my more nature-centric friends experiencing when told of a beached whale being chopped into big bloody chunks in order to clear it out of the way of swimmers who find it inconveniently situated on their favorite sandy patch.
Then, when it vanishes again, nobody seems to know what happened to it, nor to care. Such a venerable piece of hardware deserves better. Finding further life as a training tool is the kind of respect it should enjoy. Instead, it gets this. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.