Open, Sesame–or Garage Door

My garage door opener stopped working a couple of weeks ago.  It turned out to be a simple problem, but it was only resolved after I called four different garage door companies.  Good thing it wasn’t an emergency.

Jack and I bought the house where I live in 1976.  It came with a heavy wooden garage door dating from the 1950s.  The door featured a lock (but no key) and a row of perennially dirty windows, and a small round unidentified hole in one panel.  It never occurred to either of us to lock it, and we never had a second thought about opening and closing it by hand.

A few years after Jack died, I had surgery and was told not to lift anything heavier that a milk jug for several weeks.  That certainly ruled out the garage door (heck, it ruled out the fully loaded leather purse I’d been carrying), so I simply left the door open until I finally got around to having an electric garage door opener installed.  The man who put it in said, “Before long you won’t know how you got along without it,” and he was right.  I was thoroughly spoiled in no time.

A couple of years later, a cable broke, and the old door came crashing down, narrowly missing me and trapping my car in the garage.  On Friday evening of Labor Day Weekend.  That was an emergency.  I hunted down the company that had installed the opener, and someone came the next morning, jury-rigged a cable and got the door open (“Wow, lady,” he said, “I haven’t seen a door like this in years!”).  The next week he came back with a new door, light-weight but with no windows, and, I noticed much later, no handles.  On the (fortunately) rare occasions when the power was off, I could disconnect the door from the opener and open and close it with relative ease.

So when the opener suddenly refused to move more than a foot without reversing itself and returning to its locked and upright position, it wasn’t an emergency, just an inconvenience.  (And true to form, this time it happened on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.)  I just left the door open, until my neighbor (a night owl) called and woke me up to ask “Did you know your garage door is open?”

When I called the outfit that installed the opener and the door, I got a phone company recording offering to find me a similar business, since the number I was calling was no longer in service.  I wasn’t surprised; I hadn’t been able to find them in the phone book, and the on-line references to the company were years old.  I tried calling two local companies: one gave me voice mail, and the other didn’t answer the phone.  But it was Memorial Day, after all.

I called the voice-mail number later in the week and left a message.  When the owner called me back, it was to share with me a five-minute rant against my local police, claiming that they had “harassed and extorted” him and he refused to work in my neighborhood.  Translation: he had turned onto my street at 30 miles per hour, passing the fire station, two 20 MPH speed limit signs, and the police station, and got a speeding ticket.  After listening to his story, I can only imagine what he said to the cop who stopped him.  The local police are the reason that my street is safe and I can leave my garage door open if I need to, and I think they may have saved me from spending time in the garage with a man wearing a tin foil hat.

Last week I had tree trimmers in and out of my yard, so I didn’t bother with the garage door.  Around Thursday I tried company number three again, and they still weren’t answering the phone.  I left a voice mail message with company number four, and we played phone tag for a couple of days.  Over the weekend it rained, and I remembered why I like opening and closing my garage door with a remote push button.

Yesterday morning Larry, the technician from company number four, took one look at the sensors near the bottom of the door tracks and pronounced them the worst installation job he’d ever seen (which may explain why company number one went out of business).  One of the sensors was broken, so the opener was not receiving the signal that it was safe to close.  Larry had the broken sensor replaced, both sensors remounted properly, and the garage door working perfectly in fifteen minutes.

Or two weeks, depending on how you look at it.

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