December 11, 2017 by Amy
I need a garage door CLOSER
A continuation of my Struggles With Technology series…
One of life’s luxuries that makes me so very happy is having a garage with a garage door opener. Yes, I realize this puts me right in line with such new-fangled technology as slow cookers, elevators, and cordless phones, but hear me out.
I’ve scraped my windshield enough to appreciate coming out to a clean car on a cold, winter morning, simply getting into my car, starting it up, and driving it to work. Now that I have remote-start on my car, it’s even better because I warm it up before I go out there. Heaven help me should I have to suffer in cold for the five minutes it takes to warm up.
Last year, our garage door opener ceased to perform the unwritten half of its job when it got super cold: it refused to close the door when the temperature fell below 30 degrees. It would start to close, say, “Aw, helllll no,” and then retract right back up. Heat rises, so maybe the ceiling of the garage is slightly warmer than the rest of it and the door likes it there? I can’t remember what we did to fix it, but I suspect it was nothing because it’s pulling that same old trick again. Our little problem returned last week, when M came home late from a business dinner and it was colder than 30 degrees. He let me know it was happening, and then I promptly forgot about it because I was tired and sleepy, and fussing over the garage door that was now closed thanks to his machinations was of lower priority than climbing into bed.
Fast forward to the next morning, when Zoe and I were running late, because isn’t that always the case? Shit never breaks when you’ve got all the time in the world…no, it waits until you’re running about with your hair on fire, desperate to get out the door. Last spring, it was the battery on the central vacuum handle. It died while the vacuum was on, of course, rendering me unable to turn it off without digging out the buried central vac canister mounted high in the dirty corner of the dirty storage room in the garage, wrangling a step stool into a space about the size of a bread loaf, and climbing up and reaching around the enormous (and enormously filthy) canister to pull the damn plug out of the wall. Naturally, the builder placed the plug in the most awkward and unreachable location possible. Keep in mind that the vacuum motor was still running while I was doing this, and was akin to a 747 landing in my driveway. By the time I succeeded, I was sweating through my work clothes, wearing half the grime from the canister, couldn’t hear past the ringing in my ears, and pissed to beat hell. Why the damn battery can never fail when the vacuum is in the “off” position is beyond me, but that’s what happens. Is it too much to ask that someday I go to turn it on, it doesn’t turn on, and I simply replace the battery at my leisure?
But this isn’t about the vacuum. It’s about the garage door.
Even though we hadn’t run late in probably two months, that morning was it. We shot out to the garage, laden with the detritus we need for full days away from home, and I remarked, “Oh, that’s weird. Dad left the garage door open when he went to work this morning.” It was only as we were pulling out that I remembered: he didn’t leave it open…it refused to close. Son of a biscuit. It was colder than 30 degrees. Well, shit.
The door just needs a little help (i.e. a good, firm tug) to get it going. No biggie, except for these constraints: I’m not fast enough to hit the button at one end of the garage and get to the door at the other end to pull on it before it starts retracting again, and I’m not tall enough to grab the first support rail anyway to give it a tug. I need a step stool. This, for me, is a two-person job.
I parked the car in the driveway and grabbed the keys so I could go out the mudroom door and lock it behind me, and hopped out. This meant that the car started beeping angrily at me because I left it running and removed the key. Damn safety technology. Our neighbor’s bedroom windows are right there next to our driveway, and since I didn’t want to wake them up/piss them off by leaving the car beeping for however long it took me to solve my garage door woes, I removed the house key from the ring and tossed the fob back into car to shut it up. Then I ordered my child out of the car to help. This is a perfect example of why we had a child.
I pulled the step stool out of the pantry in the house, uttering a few curses about how this little escapade was going to run us even later, and headed back out to the garage. I positioned Zoe at the button, and told her to push it when directed. Then I climbed up on the step stool at the other end of the garage and reached for the door. “Now!” She pushed, the door started coming down, and I gave it a not-so-friendly tug and called it a not-so-friendly name. Down it came. Zoe cheered. We hurried through the mudroom and let ourselves out the back door, running around the house back to the car.
We made it to school on time, although Zoe didn’t have her usual leisurely prep time before her first class. I drove home, resigning myself to leave the damn door up all day if that’s what it took. Thankfully, it warmed up and I was able to close it the normal way, by pushing the button. It hasn’t dipped below 30 since then so we’ve been okay, but I’m already dreading the next drop in temperature. I should monitor the weather and set my alarm five minutes earlier on the cold days, so we can do our whole push-tug-walk-around routine without being rushed. That’d be easier than trying to actually fix it, I think.