The shed door wouldn’t budge. Bruce pushed against it. I pushed against it with him. It stayed stuck. He’d gotten it open but we were expecting severe weather, the weather folks sounding like they did before the Fairdale tornado, so I did not suggest we pull out our tractor, lawn mower, horse trailer before he closed it up again. This was not a door we could leave shut.
About a day later, I felt antsy about our equipment locked up behind a frozen shut door. There’s always the danger of one of the horses needing transport to a veterinary hospital, and I’ve been considering taking Morgen out for training and lessons. Some of the most beautiful days for trail riding are passing me by, let alone our needing to use the tractor and lawn mower.
Ever since we moved here the shed door has been a chore for me to open and close. I have told Bruce we needed to get it repaired for several years because it’s been so tight that I could barely move it when I wanted to get the trailer out. When it finally froze, it was all I could do to keep from barking, “Why didn’t you listen when I asked you to fix it before?”
We called our contractor. He was busy, though when he stopped out and looked at the door and said it needs to be lifted, he gave me some hope, but he didn’t stick around to adjust it or come back. I saw our roofer walking into Woodman’s supermarket and cornered him, asking if he could fix the door. He said he’d help us out on a rain day if I called and left my name and number. (I’m not sure he remembered who I was.) Bruce called the people our neighbors suggested who lifted their shed roof. He sounded like a grump when he left his message. He wasn’t sure they’d call back. They returned his call saying they’d be out and look at it.
But a week went by. A week. And I got more impatient. The summer is galloping by. It’s the season I work for. We have brush to clear. A lawn to mow. Horses to trail ride. I called a name another neighbor gave us.
The guy I called showed up first thing in the morning and rattled the door to open it. He lifted it and moved it, shaking it open, with big biceps and a Kirkland Fire Department t shirt. I pulled the truck and carriage out of the other side (only one shed door can stay open) and asked him to leave it open, so we could mow. He regretfully said he could not help us until after the Fourth because of the many Kirkland festivities. But at least we were getting on someone’s schedule.
I went back to my chores when Bruce called, saying that S and A Maintenance were on their way over. I told him about the other guy but he said they were coming over, he wanted it done.
A young man stepped out of his well equipped red truck and shook my hand, introducing himself as Andy. I told our story and brought out the trolleys we bought from Harvard Products. (Our tracks are cannonball tracks on a building that was put up at least seventy years ago. You can’t get trolleys like these from the big box stores. We were a little concerned we’d have to replace them for both doors along with the tracks if we couldn’t find the right fit.)Andy’s brother, Steve, arrived soon after and they got to work. Because the shed’s roof slanted, I didn’t see how you could take just this the door off. I figured they’d have to roll the south side door off, and then the north side door. I wondered how two people would manage to do this. I imagined they’d have to lay the door down to put the trolleys on.
But I’m not good figuring out objects in spaces. I can barely park our truck in a tight space. Bruce is. He is no roofer, but he figured out how to fix the porch roof and made it look beautiful. But even he was stumped by this project, and stumped hard.
My jaw dropped as I watched these young men take the track off, move the door to the side, while the south door stayed up, and then set it against the header. There was no lying it down on the ground like surgery on a horse. Rather it was like they doped the thing, it stood there with lower lip drooping while they did their work. They took three sheets of steel siding off so they could add the trolleys. I watched as they sheered the bolts off with a rotary saw, sparks spraying out like so much sunlight caught by clouds.
But the door was difficult. They showed me the middle trolley that had seized up, that had frozen the whole door. The ball bearings had been stripped because the track was out of alignment. They took the door off again and set it against the header and straightened out the track. When the finished the door, I could open it with a finger.It also helps to have the right tools. I watched them put the roller on the bottom of the door to keep it from blowing out in the wind. They drilled holes in the concrete and seated the screws. I asked Steve to check out our window. The glass has dropped out of the frame. Instead of measuring the whole thing, he looked for the serial number, saying that he might be able to order the panel and drop it in without replacing the whole window.
Their father started their business in 1998. I remarked at how well they worked together, considering they are brothers. “Not every day.” (I’m sorry I’m bad with names and faces. Even though Steve and Andy wore their names on their shirts, I’m not sure I’m quoting the right person.) One of them said he’d dropped out for five years to get a degree at Kishwaukee College in diesel mechanics and work as a mechanic.
These young men, and my husband, have an intelligence that isn’t always well respected in our college educated culture. Bruce barely passed high school, but he went to work for GTE/Verizon, and laid cable for many subdivisions in the area. He received a wonderful education from the company, something companies aren’t doing any more. I see that intelligence when he fixes the porch roof. These young men saw how to fix our shed door as if they were engineers.
I kept thinking of the sayings about doors closing and windows opening and how doors have opened and closed in my life. Just the other day Lindsey Hartz, a social media coach, reminded me that when a door closes, when people say no, it’s the Lord protecting me from relationships that might not be so good. There’s even a passage in Isaiah where God says He’ll open doors that no one can shut for the Persian king Cyrus, a promise we can maybe hope for our lives. I’ve imagined huge iron clad doors swung open, but not an old metal shed door.
Sometimes you can’t walk away from a door because you’ve loaded your stuff behind it, and it’s stuff you need to do your life. Sometimes you need help from people smarter than you, who understand how doors and sheds, tracks and trolleys work in space, who know simple ways of making the fix, without laying the whole thing down, or sliding the door off the track that didn’t need fixing, without gathering a crew of men to handle it.