Waiting for the other shoe…

If “interesting things” occur in threes, I’m one away and it’s not yet noon.

Heading into the last leg of a bike ride this morning, my cell phone came unclipped from my waistband and skidded into an intersection. Two cars passed by, narrowly missing the chance to turn my new RAZR into high tech roadkill.

I made it home without further adventure, parked the bike in the garage and hit the control on the wall to shut the garage door. Suddenly, a shot rang out…and a pirate ship was spotted on the horizon! OK, I made up the last part, but if you’ve ever heard one of those big honkin’ overhead door coiled springs break, you’ll agree that the former is not an exaggeration. Fortunately, the spring simply snapped rather than disintegrating and sending shrapnel flying in all directions.

This, however, presented a new challenge. My car was now trapped and I have an appointment later this afternoon. You might think that manually lifting a measly 8′ metal garage door would be easy work, spring-assisted or not, and if you do, I bow before your steroid-enabled muscularity. But for scrawny cycling types like me, it’s no picnic.

Juggling the opener remote in one hand, I’d hit the button then heave the door up as far as I could before the opener would grind to a halt with a mechanical hernia. It didn’t help matters when the upper right and lower left guide wheels popped out of their tracks, an aggravatingly symmetrical corollary to Murphy’s Law. We (the opener and I) eventually managed to get the door up just far enough that I was able to back the car out of the garage, clearing the door by less than an inch.

I figure “interesting event” #3 will most likely manifest itself via either the equivalent of a massive myocardial infarction in my poor garage door opener, or else I’ll awaken in the morning unable to move a single muscle thanks to my new workout routine.


  1. Okay, no more self-pity about my unusual day of inconveniences. Your garage door trumps my leaking water heater, and your cell phone mishap trumps the half-frozen Dr. Pepper that just spewed out all over my desk.
    May we both have a better afternoon!

  2. Rob, while I appreciate the sentiment, I must respectfully disagree that a garage door trumps a leaking water heater. The former represents a nuisance; the latter is a potential disaster (and generally far more expensive to address!). It sounds like you may have caught it before it went that far.
    Amen to a better afternoon, though!

  3. And spewed doctor pepper definitely beats any kind of cell phone endangerment in my book. In fact, there are times when I consider running over the d*&^ thing myself.
    Of course, it did come in handy on the trip… and those three times I blew a tire on the route… and…

  4. Your high tech roadkill reminds me of the roadkill we saw so much of in the RAZRback state of Arkansas…armadillos everywhere…they seem to be less smart than your average baby squirrel.
    Isn’t there an override cord to open the garage when power goes out? Or, this does not help when a spring breaks?

  5. I’ve had broken springs as well and they do tend to get your attention. My only recommendation would be to replace both springs at the same time, if your door has two springs. I had the first spring replaced then 30 days later, the other spring broke. I would also think a big he-man such as yourself would be able to lift the door yourself after disconnecting the opener.

  6. Gwynne, it’s not the connection to the opener that provides the challenge, it’s the dead weight of the door itself. But, yes, there is a manual disconnect so that your door doesn’t become a tombstone in a power outage.
    Jon, I think that only the 16′ doors have (or need) two springs, so I don’t have to worry about that. And thanks for the vote of confidence, however insane.

  7. had it happen before at our old house – weight lifting is a good description of the ensuing process -not that big of a deal for the hollywood overhead door folks to fix – the right tools make the job easy – way too dangerous for one amateur seeking to live another day to attempt

  8. Bill, I agree. I put this job right up there with working on my car’s brakes and doing ANY electrical wiring in the category of Jobs To Be Done By Other People Who Know What They’re Doing.

  9. Spewed Dr. Pepper can seriously mess up a cell-phone….or a laptop.
    But seriously, can anyone other than myself kill a Motorola Razr? I thought that was the whole point in making them in that high-tech, high tensile strength steel!!
    One of the funniest “I killed my cellphone” reports I ever turned in was the time I dropped my phone on location and a 99K pound pulling unit rolled over it…I mean, what were they going to say to that?
    Come to think of it, I could probably write a funny story about the demise of my cell phones and the various methods thereof….”How do I kill thee? Let me count the ways….”

  10. Dang, Janie! Certainly you should start a blog, but that there idea of yours is a magazine article if ever I heard one. Query that one, and quick before some other aspiring writer jumps on it.

  11. Janie, I had no idea that anyone was that hard on cell phones. I’ve had a half dozen over the years and never managed to kill a single one. But I agree with Jim…those are stories we need to read! 😉
    Rachel, I’m still surprised your garage door doesn’t have a spring to help balance it. I’ve never seen one that didn’t. Maybe you should post a photo. It could be a new meme. 8)
    John, the appointment has already been made: 4 pm tomorrow.

  12. I think the garage door counts as 2: 1) the spring broke, 2) the wheels came out of the tracks. We had to have both of those things done (although not at the same time) and finally just had it replaced. Oh well, good luck with that!

  13. I like your math, Denise, for that would get me off the hook for the third “adventure.” Unfortunately, the wheel imbroglio was my fault, and in the cosmic calculus of such things, it cannot count toward my quota. Bummer.

  14. I believe I could write a short book filled with my garage door opener experiences over the twenty years we have lived in this house.
    I installed the first, second and third one we needed during that time. Lightning destroyed the first two in rapid succession, as door opener longevity goes. With the passage of time, opener mechanisms evolved much like computers have, growing more complicated and involved what with the addition of light-beam sensors to make them less lethal to pets and small children.
    So far as my experience with them goes, I thought all garage doors required helper springs of one sort or the other. I’ve never seen one with the coiled external springs on it that didn’t have a matched set, one on either side of the door. The springs are an element of the original garage door installation. Garage door openers were invented and manufactured after hundreds of thousands of overhead garage doors had been included in modern homes.
    What I know for sure is that when a helper spring breaks, one should pray that they are not within the confines of the garage itself unless they are inside the car. Those springs store so much energy, they have the potential to cause very serious damage to anything they impact when they retract suddenly.
    Over the years, I’ve replaced helper springs on my garage door three times. It’s not easy or something someone without lots of experience and fix-it-yourself knowledge should attempt. A strained back is the least of your worries if you do.

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