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Reevaluating My Life Decisions

October 3, 2019

I evaluated the poor life decisions that had led me to this point in my life. I stood in my garage last Saturday morning. How had I gotten here? And more importantly, how could I get out of here? I wasn’t have some existential crisis. I was having a true crisis.

I say I was “standing” in my garage. This is true. It is also true that I was somewhat pecariously balanced on a sawhorse that was holding up one end of a board I used as a work bench. My crisis was that I needed to get down. My problem was that I was being held captive by my garage door. My fingers were crushed between the door and wall and I couldn’t get them out. I was trapped and I was hurting and it was my own stupid fault.

Recently I installed weatherstripping around my garage door. Utah winters are cold enough and the gaps around my door let too much of the outside to the inside. Installing the weatherstripping is a pretty straightforward operation. You basically nail a long strip of rubberized silcone to the wall around your garage door.

Unfortunately, as it moved up and down, the door had pulled the stipping off the nails and a three foot length of it hung down in front of my door. It was only going to get worse if I left it. So, Saturday, I decided to do a little repair work.

My problem was the dangling  I diweatherstripping was outside the door and I needed to be inside the door to f ix it. First I opened the door. The weatherstripping was attached about 8′ above the ground. If I put the ladder in place, I wouldn’t be able to close the door without moving the table. So, rather than stand secure on the ladder, I carefully clambered up on my “table.” I reached out to the garage door tracks to steady myself.

Next, I grabbed the dangling bit of weatherstripping and lifted it up to the level I needed to reattach it above the open garage door. There was not room with the door open to reattach the stripping. I was going to need to hold it so that it didn’t fall back down while the door was closing. I carefully reached around the backside of the garage track and pressed the weatherstripping securely against the wall.

Next, I very carefully reached down and pressed the Door Close button on the exterior keypad. Immediately I felt the taut steel cable that holds the door up start to rub against my hand. I quickly jabbed at the Door Close button again to make the door stop and return to the full open position.

Whew! That was close and could have been a disaster. At this point I perhaps should have considered my options and rethought my stupid repair strategy. Oh, I thought I made a smart readjustment. I moved my hand higher on the wall in a wide open spot that was a long ways away from the dangerous cable.

Prepared to give it another go, I reached down and pressed the Door Close again. The door started to close and I was happy to see and feel that I was nowhere near any of the moving parts. A garage door may not feel like it, but it’s incredibly heavy. The typical garage door opener is a half horsepower. That’s powerful. It has to be to lift a steel door that measures 8′ high by 16′ long. That motor was slowly lowering that massive door and my fingers were well out of the way. In fact, My fingers were almost exactly in line with where the weatherstripping would need to end up.

Perhaps it’s good to know two things about the spot where the door meets the weatherstripping. First, the the top of the garage door exactly meets the edge of the weatherstripping. Second and infinitely more important in my current situation is the top of the garage door is about 2″ wider than the rest of the door.

That 2″ is noteworthy. At least it is to me. As the door settled against the cement floor, the top of the door came down and sealed itself against the wall. Unfortunately my fingers were already in that space. The door came down on the top of my first two fingers and I immediately realized, “I’m in trouble.”

And that led me to my moment of reflection. I’ve never been the type to panic, and I didn’t now. My fingers did not appear to be bleeding, but I couldn’t yet tell if they were broken. Oh, they were hurt. They definitely were painful.

My first thought was to open the door. But, the keypad that was so easily accesible when the door was open might as well have been locked behind a vault door. My next thought was to pull the door away from the wall enough to free my fingers. Try as I might, I couldn’t budge the door.

My position balanced on the sawhorse was only mildly stable. Not really in a position to get a lot of leverage. I tcouldcried not to contemplate what would happen to my hand if I slipped off my perch.

If I couldn’t pull my hand free, my next thought was to use a tool. Fortunately I had brought a hammer with me to help nail in the weatherstripping. Unfortunately, it was sitting at my feet on the workbench. It was only about a twelve inches out of reach, but it might as well have been 12 feet. I tried to slip my foot under the handle. Maybe I could flip it up. And maybe I might push it right off the table, which is what I was in danger of doing.

My family were all busy sleeping in on a Saturday morning. And the garage is at the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms. Still, it was worth a shot,

HELP!!! Can anyone hear me?!? HELPPPPP!

I knew it was a useless gesture, but desparate times and all that. I couldn’t get down. I couldn’t open the door and I couldn’t reach my hammer. What could I reach? I looked around the workbench. The end of the workbench had a vise bolted to it. And hanging on the vise was a three foot wire bent into the shape of a horse shoe. I edged my foot over and managed to lift the edge of the wire high enough to grab it with my free right hand.

My left hand was starting to throb a little. I pushed that out of my mind as I reversed the wire so that I was holding one “leg” of the wire and the loop was facing down. I now carefully (yeah, I used that word a lot along with prayers to God to please help me) carefully, I looped the bottom of the wire over the end of the hammer and ever so slowly lifted it up. When the handle was nearly verticle, I slid my leg over to keep it upright. Dropping the wire, I could now reach the upended handle of the hammer.

I took a deep breath and tried to push the pain out of my mind. While whispering another prayer, I positioned the hammer so that the claw edge was under the edge of the door. Now, I could use the sawhorse to my benefit. I pushed up on the hammer. The door refused to budge. Setting myself again, I shoved up even harder. I felt a slight lessoning of pressure on my aching fingers.

Giving it one more solid push, finally, I scraped my fingers out from under the edge of the door.

In mild disbelief I stared at the scraped across the back of my fingers. No blood, and flexing my fingers a few times I satisfied myself that they were in fact, not broken. I uttered another silent prayer for safe deliverance.

As I started to climb down, I realized I still had the hammer in my hand. . .I mean, I’m already up here. . .

The weatherstripping, of course, had fallen back down in front of the door. But, I silently cursed myself as I pulled easily pulled it up from the inside. Yes, I really had nearly broken my fingers “fixing” a non-existant problem.

I easily pulled out the nails that the weatherstripping had pulled off from. I quickly tacked the strip back in place and got down off my makeshift ladder.

A day later, the scrapes on my hand hardly matched the seriousness of how I’d gotten them.

It could have turned out so much differently. What do they say, “God loves home repairmen and fools”? I pretty sure it was something like that.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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