When one door closes, goes a new version of an old saying, the other one won’t open.
For many years, that described the twin doors of my two-car garage, where I couldn’t park even one car because of all the junk in there. But I did, depending on the weather, have snow, sleet, rain and autumn leaves because one of the doors had a gap I could stick my empty head through.
Then there were critters, especially crickets, which sang for their supper while my wife, Sue, and I were having ours. I’m surprised we didn’t have a plague of locusts. Or a family of squirrels. They would have driven me more nuts than I already am.
The door that wouldn’t open covered the half of the garage that the previous owner of our humble home used as a workshop. Since I am the least handy man in America, I turned it into a storage area where I don’t store tools. But there is a refrigerator where I do store beer.
The other door was off-kilter, kind of like me, which meant it could be opened and closed, but it had to be secured with a piece of wire that served as the world’s most inefficient lock.
So Sue and I decided to get new garage doors.
This meant that half the garage had to be cleaned out.
The suburban renewal project included lugging a heavy bureau and a bulky cabinet out to the curb, as well as removing scores of other items that had been parked in the garage for no discernible reason aside from the highly questionable fact that we would one day need them. We never did.
Stuff belonging to our two grown daughters, both of whom have been out of the house since the administration of George W. Bush, also was in there.
On a sunny weekday morning, Jeff Ried and his apprentice, Mike Skuba, arrived to remove the old garage doors and install the new ones.
“Ninety percent of the people I see on this job can’t fit a car in their garage,” said Jeff.
“Can you fit a car in yours?” I asked.
“No,” he replied.
“How about you?” I asked Mike.
“I live in an apartment,” he said. “I don’t have a garage.”
It was a comfort, however small, knowing that ours wasn’t so bad.
“One time I found a suit of armor in somebody’s garage,” Jeff said. “In another one, there was a big bag of weed that the owner said belonged to his son. He screamed and said, ‘I’m gonna kill that kid!’ But the weirdest was this woman who hadn’t opened her garage in about 20 years. She had three freezers full of dead animals. Her late husband was a taxidermist.”
“Was her husband in there, too?” I inquired.
“Fortunately, he was not,” Jeff said. “But there were deer and ducks. They were all petrified.”
“The refrigerator in our storage area has a freezer,” I said, “but it contains fish sticks and french fries.”
“You’re relatively normal,” Jeff told me.
“Yes, relatively,” I responded. “But thanks.”
The first order of business was to dismantle the door on the storage side of the garage.
“It’s called a dummy door,” Jeff said.
“It could be named after me,” I noted.
He politely didn’t agree but could have when I asked if the door came in one piece.
“It wouldn’t fit in the truck,” Jeff said as he and Mike installed the new door, which came in four sections.
So did the new door on the other side. But first, the old, rickety one had to be taken off the track. Then a new track had to be installed, followed by the new door.
I helped when I handed Jeff a box he couldn’t reach.
“You saved me the trouble of walking all the way around,” he said.
I also helped Mike clean up afterward by using a magnet with a long handle to pick up loose screws from the floor.
“I have a few loose screws myself,” I said.
“I hope the magnet doesn’t get stuck to your head,” Mike said.
When the guys were finished, Sue and I marveled at how great our new garage doors looked.
“Now we don’t have to worry about snow and critters getting in,” I said.
“And one of these days,” Sue added, “we might actually be able to get a car in here.”
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of six books. His latest is “One for the Ageless: How to Stay Young and Immature Even If You’re Really Old.” Reach him at [email protected] or via jerryzezima.blogspot.com.