Preamble: situations like this are where I ended up with most of my mechanic stories for Honest And For True.
In a rush to get to soccer practice, Kiddo#1 said, “Oh, can you put the trunk door down? It won’t close.” He’d just grabbed two water bottles before practice, and that’s where we keep them.
About five minutes later, I went to the garage to close the minivan’s trunk door only to find it wouldn’t budge. It appeared to be wedged in the garage door.
The minivan trunk door has always hit the garage door, and you can’t open the rear door without the garage door being open first. Somehow I must have parked in the exact millimeter where the hinge for the garage door hit the well for the license plate, and now it was stuck. No biggie: I pushed the garage door up, except it wouldn’t slide further up the track. I pushed up while pulling the trunk door down. Nope. I pushed the trunk door up figuring the garage door would stay in place. Nope. I pulled while pushing. No love.
I placed firm objects beneath the plane of the garage door so that if it crashed down, I would not lose a limb. The first time I pulled an emergency release, the door slammed down like a guillotine.
Hm. I climbed onto a box to see what was going on. I climbed up the side of the minivan. I decided to wait until my Patient Husband returned from work so he could supervise while I idled the van forward or backward an inch, untrapping the garage door.
When he got home, we tried this only to find the doors wouldn’t uncouple. He got up on a box and declared the situation worse than I’d guessed: along the same plane as the well for the license plate was the indentation where the tail lights fit into the door body. Somehow the flange of the garage door hinge had gotten encased in this indentation.
The two of us together couldn’t pull-push it apart. I got our ice breaker, a heavy metal implement on an eight-foot pole, and that wouldn’t pry them apart. We debated trying to lower the garage door, deflating the tires, packing everyone into the van to weigh it down, removing the back door. I’d even begun praying, “God, what are we going to do?” Nothing seemed like it would work, so while we debated, we kept working with the ice breaker, and eventually, the doors came apart. The trunk door now shuts, and the garage door closes.
When Kiddo#1 came home, I said, “Can you tell me what happened just before the door got stuck?” and when my Patient Husband started imPatiently asking “Did you — ” I cut him off and said, “Please, I just want to hear what he did.”
Kiddo#1 will tell you what he thinks you want to hear if you give him a clue as to what that is.
He said, “Well, I was in a hurry.” He looked abashed. “I put up the door. And then I opened the trunk, but it opened faster than I thought it would.”
I was saying “Did you push it up?” when my Patient Husband suddenly gasped.
I said, “What? What do you think — ” and then I gasped too.
Because the kid, in order to save the eight seconds it would take to fully open the garage door, had run under the rising garage door and popped open the trunk door, which had shot up, and as the garage door rose, it hit the trunk door and the flange got pushed into the garage door and the two got married together.
I explained that was the stupidest thing to do. “If the garage door springs had snapped, you’d be a lot shorter right now. It could cut off your head, cut off your legs — ”
It’s not the deep gouges in the door metal that bother me. It’s the fact that for the second time this week, he’s unthinkingly done something that could have gotten him killed. And all to save ten seconds.