Open… shut them. Open… shut them. Give a little clap. Open…shut them. Open…shut them. Lay them in your lap.Seems like a hundred years ago, but I can still see and hearmy Sunday School teacher reciting this verse as we sat in a semi-circle facing her. It was our signal to be quiet, put our hands in our laps, and listen. When we heard the words, we all knew what we were supposed to do.

If only my garage doorknew what it was supposed to do. In the last few weeks it seemsto have forgotten. Like our hands in the finger play at church, garages only have two jobs when it comes to doors. Open. Shut them.Shutting was not the issue. It was the opening where my troubles began. And what trouble it has been. For more than twenty years, our doorworked just fine. It wasn’t until we installed a new one that we had problems.

I think my garage is mad at me but I’m not sure why. It’s either because we replaced a perfectly good door just to havea prettier one or because I no longer treasure this place like I used to. Everything I enjoyed about my garage, like starting a warm car in the winter or unloading groceries indoors when it’s pouring outdoors, ended last fall when a reptile slithered in uninvited. Say what you want, but that cold-blooded creaturewill never be my friend. Robert has sprayed cases of sealant to the point that the cinderblock walls seem to be sprouting marshmallows. Even with his repeated assurances, I have my doubts. I still worry what could be hiding inside a box or waiting under my car.

My garage isn’t feeling the love anymore and that’s probably why it’s making me pay. First, the door jumped off its tracks, derailing faster than my diet resolutions when Mama Crockett’s Cider Donut truck pulls into town. The second time was disastrous, requiring more than a few squirts of WD-40 to fix. I’d run home for lunch only to hear a deafening pop as the bottom edge of the door touched the concrete floor. The coil on the motorized opener had exploded with a boinngg sound like you’d hear in a cartoon. I halfway expected to find Wile E. Coyote setting off an Acme bomb in the path of the Road Runner. Instead, all I saw were loose wires swinging back and forth from the ceiling letting me know I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t leave even with or without a ride. If I locked the house, we’d be homeless, because we couldn’t get back inside. The truth is we’ve only come in and out through the garage. We’ve never owned a key to any of our doors and until that moment never needed one.

Nothing is ever normal with me so it stands to reason our doors wouldn’t be either. The front one is so high off the ground that scaling a Mayan pyramid blindfolded would be easier than coming up those steps. The trek to the backdoor is such a hike that all that’s missing is a campsite and an Appalachian Trail sign. Thatonly leaves a side entrance
with its illusion of actually working. The knob turns but rarely moves the latch. It takes more twists than Chubby Checker to get this thing to open. So there I was. I couldn’t drive out because the garage door was down. I couldn’t walk out because it would lock us out, so the best I could do was watch out…in case something slithery was in there with me.

Repairs took longer than I’d hoped, which meant several weeks of my car parked in the elements. I know my garage enjoyed seeing me scrape my windshield in the mornings, shovel a footpath in the snow and repeatedly struggle with that side door to get inside. Most of all, I’m sure it relished my learning a lesson of appreciation for its years of service the hard way. Open…shut them. Finally this entrance is working again and I’m doing a little clap. Life is so much better when I can sit inside my garage pushing its buttons instead of sitting outside having it push mine.

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