The other day the garage door opener started acting up. Actually it was on the way down that was causing a problem. I’d hit the close door button in the car and the door would lower just a little. A second press of the button and it would raise all the way up. Third time charm would bring it down. Unfortunately this wasn’t just a fluke because it kept misbehaving. It’s always a relief when my husband experiences the same problem I’m having because it never fails that whatever I’m showing him won’t fail when he’s standing there. But he’d had difficulty with it as well.
A broken garage door opener around here is a sore subject. Remembering the last time we had to have one replaced gives me heartburn. Some years back this was the case. A couple of weeks before the opener had begun causing trouble I had done some painting in the garage. I don’t know anyone who would give a flip about the springs that raise and lower the door much less the tracks that they roll in. Really. But since I had the brush in my hand and plenty of paint to go around, I ended up slapping paint on just about everything in my path. This included the coils or as I call them the springs. So when the door wouldn’t work my husband had me convinced I had caused the glitch by painting the springs.
“Oh, you should have checked with me before doing that. That causes deionization in the compressed coils and tracks. Eventually both will weaken and then the unit stops working.”
Well, that all sounded plausible because I know nothing about these things ~ so I accepted Ken’s explanation. He said it with such authority and a true poker face. Besides most of the time he enlightens me on a mechanical malfunction he sounds like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. So this was no different.
But the more I thought about it the more ridiculous his explanation seemed. He insisted he wasn’t making it up so…
I was at work at the time the man came out to install the new opener. The phone rang and it was Ken calling.
“The guy’s here and I wanted him to be the one to tell you what happened.”
So he puts this installer on the phone and the man repeats the same kind of gibberish Ken had fed me a few days before:
“Yes ma’am. This is Al. You just can’t put all that paint on those coils. It does somethin’ to the steel and weakens the unit.”
I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at it in total disbelief. Surely Ken had been pulling my leg. Surely my painting didn’t cause us to have to buy a new door opener. I felt terribly guilty and apologized profusely to my husband partially for not believing him but mostly for damaging the damn door.
A patient came in right after I got off the phone (I worked for a dentist) so I asked him if he had ever heard of painting garage door springs being the reason the door wouldn’t work. He raised one eyebrow and cocked his head.
“Frankly I’ve never heard of anyone painting their opener. But, well, er, uh, if that’s what your husband and the other guy told you then I guess it’s possible, but not likely.” There was genuine skepticism in his tone and he was looking at me as though I had a third eye in my forehead. Before I could question him further he was taken to the back for his appointment.
It was the end of my workday and I dreaded going home to see the replacement bill. As my office was only about 10 minutes from our house my reprieve was a short one. The repair guy was still standing in our garage, chatting it up with my husband when I arrived. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I was cordially greeted which I hated because they were being so nice and I was so embarrassed. The brand new opener worked like a charm and the fellas were quick to demonstrate how smoothly and quietly it ran. Something was wrong, though, not with the new opener but with the guys. They were almost giddy. I was certain they’d been amusing themselves over my stupidity for having screwed up the opener.
Foolishly I asked how long we could expect this new unit to last. “Probably forever if you don’t paint it,” one of them said. And on that note they both doubled over with laughter. Immediately realizing that the joke was on me my face turned red from anger, not at them so much, more at myself for being such an easy mark. This is one of those things my husband will never let me live down.
Ken promised he’d take a look at the current opener to see if he can fix it. And he can tell me anything he wants as to why it’s not working and I won’t believe a word…at least I’ll know I wasn’t the one to create the problem, no matter what it is.
I should go paint a couple of coils before he tends to it…just to show him there are no hard feelings. But that would only serve as a reminder and why get him started again?!
Originally published in the October 2010 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette.