The Birthday Door

This is not a BJJ post, just a funny-ish story. (I’m training still. I’m much more consistent about going M/F/Sa. Even if I lie to myself that “I’ll just warmup” or “I’ll just watch” when I’m tired, I end up diving in anyway and feeling great by the time it’s over.)

So for my birthday this year, my mom announced she had no idea what to get me. (Not really true; she just didn’t like any of the options. If I liked shopping or dresses or buying furniture, she would have found something.) Apparently cash was not an option. She decided that my gift from them would be a new storm door for my house. She doesn’t like the old one; it has no screen but the sun hits that side of the house most of the day, so it gets hot between the doors (and this is the way she comes into my house). It was also, for reasons I never figured out, impossible to keep clean; it would get some kind of film on the inside that you could scrub off… and it would come right back in a short while. Did not matter what you used. So, new door! Sure, fine.

She has a friend who sells doors & windows; he got her a good deal on a door. His son, a friend of mine, is a general contractor and came to install it. First problem, they immediately found some wood issues around the door. (I kinda suspected that was there, but did not want to acknowledge the issue. Maybe it will just get better on its own. You know, just like ribs do…) So authorized him to address that. Second, the door install took four times longer than they expected. Everything was more complicated than it usually is. (In talks with folks later, he learned that it’s because my door is not set into the frame, but into a deal with windows on the sides. Not as cooperative as real frames.) Then they absolutely could not figure out how to get the handle installed; they worked on it for over 2 hours. He’s installed doors many, many times, and this one was somehow different than any other he’s ever done (even from the same manufacturer). They eventually had to leave the handle inside the house and went to order another handle, assuming the first was broken.

He came back today to install the handle before I went to work. First problem, the new handle was the wrong color (nickel instead of brass. Big difference.). Second problem, it’s exactly the same style as the first one. Wat. We had ordered a different style. So he decided to try the first handle again. This time he acted as if he’d never installed a door handle before and followed the instructions exactly. Installed in 5 minutes. The difference: every other door handle this company makes, you have to screw in the faceplates first and then attach the handles to each other. On this model, for “reasons,” you thread the handles through the faceplates but do not screw them in until the handles lock, because the faceplates need to spin a bit. 

So he left and I finished getting ready for work. As I left, I shut the front door. And heard, “Clunk.” Wat. I pulled the door opened, then slowly closed it, watching as the deadbolt keypad headed straight for the new door handle. Clunk. Oh, lovely. I had to push open the new storm door then shut the front door and deadbolt it, letting the storm door hit the deadbolt pad and prop itself open by about a half inch. I called my mom to explain the situation, as I had to go to work. She called both the father and son and explained the issue; they both agreed to meet her at my house to look at it.

They pulled out the old door handles to compare it to the new one. The old door, made by the same company as the new door, should also have handles that are equal on the inside and outside (so you can do a left-hand or right-hand door with the same hardware). Surprise, the old door handles were not equal; the inside one was shorter. The father was surprised, because he’s worked for them for years, and he knows they don’t sell a lower-profile handle like that — but it’s got their name on it. So apparently the original installation had this exact same issue. Rather than fix it properly then (readjust lock locations or something), the original installers decided to cut down the inside handle to make it a lower-profile handle, thus creating problems for anyone who ever wanted to replace the door. Alllllriiiiight. (I wonder if they did that to all the houses in the neighborhood, which were all built by the same company.)

The solution we chose was to reuse the old handles since they do fit in the new door. The hardware doesn’t quite match (new & shiny vs 10 years of wear), but at least the door latches now.

The kicker in all this was that, while my mom bought the door for my birthday, she didn’t pay for the installation or the extra work he did on the woodwork. So my birthday present cost me about $400. Thanks, Mom…

I think next year I’ll make the case for cash.


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