So yesterday, about five minutes after my wife left for work, the phone rang. It was Jean (of DonJean fame, as regular readers will know). For the irregular readers (and I’m sorry for you if you are), Jean (and Don) were our “backdoor neighbours” (backdoor neighbours? Heyo!) up until a week ago.
Jean was calling because my wife had called her earlier in the day to let her know that their garage door was wide open and had been for a day or two.
“I know you don’t actually live there anymore, and I don’t want to be a snoopy neighbour, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted it open and wanted to let you know” was how the earlier conversation went, allegedly.
The new neighbours haven’t moved in yet, and so they are in a weird transitional period where Don and Jean are still sort of looking out for their house, since it is one of their granddaughters who will be eventually moving into it.
“Well that’s no good!” said Jean. “I’ll just call Tony next door to go over and close it!”.
“Tony?” I said. “No need to bother Tony, I’ll just go across and do it. No problem,” was my response.
No problem, indeed.
As soon as I got off the phone I had to explain to Audrey that I had to go across to “DonJean’s” and close the door, but that just was the invitation for a deluge of questions.
“Why? What DOING? Why the door up? How you close it? Me want to see!”
I tried to assuage her enthusiasm by telling her she could sit up in the kitchen window and watch me do it.
“I will LITERALLY be out and back in a minute. It’s no big deal!” I told her confidently.
I got my on my boots and jacket and was out to the garage, looking around for the “button”. Well, it was a little further in to the garage than I had thought a button like that would be. I gauged the distance and thought I could push it and still have enough time to run out the big door, Indiana Jones style, before it closed behind me.
I don’t really know a thing about automatic garage doors, seeing that I do not have an automatic garage door myself, or even a garage door, or a garage come to think of it. I didn’t realize that as soon as I pushed the button and made a run for it that there was some invisible sensor or beam that would detect my movement and immediately stop the garage door from descending and in fact send it completely back up to the fully open position.
Now I think Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
CALL ME CRAZY, I guess, but I tried it again, running out the corner of the door instead, but that’s some strong beam, dear reader, and it caught me again.
I can hear you say to yourself, “Why doesn’t he just push the button and then exit by the small side door like a normal sane person?” Well, let me tell you that the small side door was/is PADLOCKED from the outside, so here I was in a bit of a pickle. I had promised Jean I would get that door down, and here I was, unsuccessful so far.
It was at this point that I hear sound outside the garage door. At first it sounded like a person walking their dog and I thought: “Oh crap! This is going to look really weird. It will be one of my neighbours and I’m going to look really sketchy standing in this empty garage with nothing to say for myself. I was scrambling for a cover story when I heard two words that brought me back to my senses:
It was Audrey! Holy Lord, she had gone and got her boots on (on the wrong feet but STILL) and opened the back door of the house, wandering out through the snowy backyard, OPENED our back gate, came out through our parking pad, and most troubling of all, crossed a sometimes very busy back lane by herself. I was stunned, and also a little impressed.
“I want to see the button, Daddy.”
“Audrey, that was very wrong, what you did just there. You KNOW you’re not supposed to leave the house by yourself, right?”
She was unrepentant. “I look both ways, Daddy, I look both ways.”
It was then that I noticed that she didn’t have her jacket on, and she had a short little dress with bare legs. I knew immediately that when this story all came out, it would somehow be my fault. And yet at the same time I felt a little pride that she would have the gumption to get herself together as well as she did and STILL remember the lesson of looking both ways. That kid’s going to be okay, I thought to myself.
Then all of a sudden, I had an idea.
You know how in Dickensian times they used children as chimney sweeps because they could fit into tight places? Well I thought maybe Audrey would be just small enough to evade that pernicious beam and we could both go back inside and forget about this whole thing and get started on the hamburger helper.
Well, that was a disaster too. First of all, the button was too high for Audrey to reach, so if I held her up and she pushed it, I would still be in the way of the beam. So I found a step-ladder and I had the crazy notion that she could stand on the step-ladder, I would stand outside in the lane, she would push the button, jump down off the step-ladder and run out before the door slid shut.
NOW BEFORE YOU CLICK OFF OF THIS AND CALL CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES, I want you to know that I DID NOT attempt this. Even dumb me knew this was child endangerment and the situation could have gone down with her pushing the button and NOT getting off the step-ladder in time and falling and breaking an arm or something and THEN having the door shut all the way so that I would have created a situation where I had an injured three-year old, improperly dressed for winter, locked inside a stranger’s garage.
I was about to “call uncle” as it were and thought that maybe calling “Tony the responsible neighbour” would have been the correct thing for Jean to do in the first place, when I looked up and noticed something curious.
Near the top of the door there was a rope handle, dangling down.
Like I said before, I know nothing about automatic garage doors, but apparently you don’t need to use the automatic part if you don’t want to. I pulled on the rope handle and the door started to close manually. I got Audrey and me out into the lane, (looking both ways, ALWAYS looking both ways) and pulled the door down the rest of the way and that was that.