71: My Downfall

71: My Downfall

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

My Downfall

If men can quilt and take over the kitchen, then women can pick up a wrench and fix a leaky pipe.

~Hanna Rosin

I have always been the one to figure out where the leak or squeak is coming from in our home. I help my friends with their projects, too. I don’t see why an able-bodied woman has to rely on the man of the house to do everything. I have fixed plumbing, replaced light fixtures, changed HVAC filters, repaired appliances, and put furniture together. No pink tools for me, either.

So I was supremely confident that I could fix a damaged piece of my garage door mechanism all by myself. My teenage daughter had put a large dent in a section of the metal runner that guides the wheels on the door as it rises. I made an expedition to the scary industrial area where the garage-door-opener-parts place squatted among all the other boxy buildings. I had the dented piece of metal with me, since I didn’t know what it was called. I received a few skeptical looks from the guys behind the counter, but I’m used to that when I venture into “man territory.” I don’t know what I was thinking, but when I got home with the replacement piece, I pushed the small red button that started the door on its journey to the ceiling of the garage. As the door rose, its mounted wheels were supposed to roll up the track, the one that I was holding in my hand! At that moment, I noticed that the missing piece of metal track, the one I had just bought a replacement for, and now held in my hand, served a very important function. Without this piece of track, the door started to sway, which started a catastrophic series of events in slow motion, resulting in the wheels popping out of the track.

I had managed to create a mess now, with the door hanging like a hammock from the garage’s ceiling by two strands of terrifyingly thin wire. I was in big trouble. Would the door fall down? My garage has two stories of house above it. Would the whole thing collapse like a house of cards? And what was I thinking when I took on this project? I should have realized I was not invincible.

I ran upstairs and called the guy who had installed the garage door in the first place. I agreed to pay time-and-a-half so that he would come right away. I went back downstairs to the garage to keep an eye on the swaying door and just then my son came home from school, a witness to my humiliation. His jaw dropped, first when he saw the garage door, and then when he saw me, pacing in front of the garage. He stood there for a moment, and I knew he wanted an explanation.

But instead, I barked an order: “Just go inside… go!” He scurried inside. Meanwhile, a couple of my neighbors drove by, waved and pointed at my obviously broken garage door. “Something wrong?” they shouted.

Time crept by. The other two kids came home. Finally, the garage door repairman arrived, not exactly rushing despite the time-and-a-half. He was a titan with muscular arms, long curly black hair and a neat goatee. I asked him, “Is this the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen?” and, without waiting for an answer, “Can you fix this?”

“I can fix it,” he said.

He lifted the door with his bare hands. His grease-covered fingertips made a dainty border up the sides of the white garage door as he put the wheels back on the track and secured the new piece of metal to the doorframe.

He pushed the red button; the door went up and down. Perfectly.

I paid him gratefully.

I left his fingerprints there, though — a reminder that some things are harder than they look.

~Risa Nye

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