When a modern convenience becomes inconvenient

I went racing out the door to watch my son swim at the school championships recently and literally got stopped in my tracks – the garage door tracks, in fact.

The whizz-bang panel lift contraption went part of the way up then part of the way back down and then stopped. Try as I might to turn off the power and override the system so I could manually lift the garage door up, it just wouldn’t budge. Clearly something was seriously wrong and beyond my capability to fix and I was a bit scared to try too much with the memory of a heavy garage door crashing dangerously to the ground at a previous house still fresh in my mind.

And of course this happened on a Sunday when all garage door repair people can charge a premium for an emergency weekend call out. The quotes ranged from $440 just to come and get the door up to extract the car, to $220 for the first 15 minutes and goodness knows what after that. What option did I have? I was starting a new job in the city the next morning and had to drive the car. So I parted with $250 (usually $110 if I could wait until Monday afternoon) to get the garage door going under manual operation. The motor had blown and I would have to part with another $450 later in the week to have a new motor fitted.

In the grand scheme of life, it was definitely one of those first world problems but I couldn’t help thinking about how costly and inconvenient modern technology can sometimes be.

When the automatic garage door is functioning, I’m a happy girl. With the push of a button, I can drive straight into the garage and escape any form of rain, hail or shine outside. But when that simple modern convenience is broken, it’s a downright modern inconvenience.

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Perhaps I’ve become too spoilt? I remember as a young girl when my parents spent what was then a small fortune to build a garage (aka steel shed with double roller doors) in the backyard. Nothing fancy. It kept the cars dry, not us though. We still had to walk about 30 metres from the garage to the house and in a Tasmanian winter there was plenty of rain and cold to contend with on that short walk to get inside. And there was nothing automatic about those roller doors.  Mum would drive up to the garage, get out of the car, unlock the roller door with a key, use all her strength to push the roller door up, get back in the car then drive into the garage – a process repeated on the way back out.  Still, the cars were safe and sound!

My car is too now, after a garage door repair costing $700.  I missed the swimming carnival but at least one parent was there to watch.  And lucky me, I ended up spending my Sunday afternoon at home putting all those other modern conveniences to good use … washing, ironing, vacuuming.

Tell us, which of your mod-cons became an inconvenience when it broke down? How much was your repair bill?