Thanks, Dad!


Closed garage door announcing that you are going to be fine


Tired after a long day, I finished up outside, put away the tools, re-latched all the windows, and locked the back doors. Michelle and I decided to take the dog out for a walk before a late dinner. So we gathered up the necessities:

  • Shoes? check

  • Phone? check

  • Sunglasses? check

  • Coyote spray? check

  • Leash? check

  • Collar? check

  • Waste bags? check

  • Dog? physically impossible to miss in his flurry of excitement

We geared-up and out we went, through the garage, stopping outside the garage at the keypad for the door. Michelle was activating her tracker for our walk while I entered the code to close the garage door.

As the door descended, Michelle asked, “You brought the keys, right?” “Uh no, YOU got the house keys, right?”, I answered.

It was at this point that many things went through my mind:

  • Okay, we can certainly go a day without collecting the mail from our locked mailbox;

  • Our home has all Kenmore Elite appliances, each a failure in its own way and our garage door opener is Craftsman and has jammed shut in the past;

  • The door is fast descending and almost closed;

  • Why have I not stashed a key in a fake rock as I did at my last house?

So I quickly shoved my foot under the untrustworthy door to trip the electric eye and send it back up. Eight legs, a wall, a quickly closing door, and recessed sensors meant that I missed the electric eye and had to pull back my foot. Can I put this on the opener as well? Hmm, well either way, don’t get me wrong, my reaction speed was impressive!

I said, “No problem, we’ll punch in the code, reopen the door and grab the keys.” (Don’t get ahead of me now)

So I entered the garage door code and received a buzzing sound for my effort! Another entry delivered another buzz for my now angst! Yep, the garage door opener chose just this perfect time to jam. The “unjamming fix” requires being INSIDE the garage and unlatching the track. Okay, so a quick survey of the situation (aka sitrep) concluded:

  • The door was jammed and no amount of lifting would change that;

  • All windows were latched and locked... I only just did that!

  • All house doors were locked... I just did that too!

  • All garage remote controls were inside the garage... that I’d just locked - Yay me!

  • No neighbours had keys to our place, nor did we have a “hidden” key;

  • The dog is with us and not trapped inside to do his “business” - a small mercy;

  • I did have my iPhone with me! Excellent! It was at 15% charge. Not excellent!

A quick search online of Craftsman manuals yielded no special way to enter codes on the keypad to make an adjacent garage door open. Michelle noted that all the electricity and phone charging ability was inside the house, so the next course of action should be to call someone we knew locally before disturbing our neighbours’ dinner hour. Since our four daughters lived elsewhere in Canada at that time, the closest relative was my Dad. Aged 91. But hey, he has a car, loves to drive, drives a Jag for crying out loud! I called my Dad.

With my Dad on his way, I called a local 24-hour locksmith to get us back inside... “Be there in 45 minutes.” (iPhone now at 10%)

My Dad (already was my hero... still is) rode in on his silver Jaguar not long after and we explained the situation further. He offered us use of his phone and room at this new apartment, should we need it. While we awaited the locksmith and chatted, my father (the 91 year old guy) suggested that I rummage around in an old box of “car stuff” in the Jag’s trunk as there might be something useful in there. He recalled that the dealership loaded it with all of the glove compartment’s contents from his old car when he picked up this car. I did, and found an old garage remote control. What were the chances that it was one for our other garage doors? Further, what were the chances that its battery was still good? I pressed the button and discovered that the answers were: great, and excellent!

With house access returned and my iPhone at 5%, I quickly called the locksmith and cancelled the technician en route so that they could help the next poor sap.

Clearly this was one retirement “adventure” that we would’ve gladly skipped, but it was a wonderful adventure for my Dad. Aiding the fortunate outcome was a support network, which is as important to maintain in retirement as having purpose. At his age, you would think that I am a part of my Dad’s support network and you’d be correct; but at MY age and stage of life, it’s not so obvious that he is a part of mine. Despite his age, my Dad quite literally saved the day for us. Thanks, Dad!



P.S. Following our retirement adventure above, I did some research online and bought an excellent outdoor lock box to secure our keys. Affordable, rugged, weatherproof, mountable, sturdy shackle, and with a re-programmable combination, impressive enough that we bought a second one for use at the cottage. Now we’re covered should Sears products fail us again in the future!

Perfect storm or comedy of errors, have you experienced a similar “adventure”? How did you solve it? Let us know, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.