The Heavy Door

September 4, 2009








My wife tells me that I am a very negative and pessimistic person. She is just as negative and pessimistic as I am, but she refuses to admit it. Every morning when she gets up, she grimly says to herself, I will be positive and optimistic.

Front Door with Inset

Front Door with Inset

It takes her a couple of hours and several glasses of tea for her determination to take effect.


I meant to write this story about five years ago, when our house was being built. I was optimistic, but I am finally getting around to it now.


My wife is a person with a highly developed aesthetic sense. It is very important to her to be surrounded by things she finds beautiful. For example, our garden is full of many nutritious food plants, but it is also full of beautiful flowers. It took four years for the garden to reach its full flowering. We are now harvesting our fruits and vegetables, which have been abundant, and sniffing the flowers, which are beautiful and provide beautiful scents.


When we were working with Tom, the contractor we hired to build our house, my wife said, “We will purchase the front door and bring it out to the construction site.” She said this because she didn’t want any old door. She wanted a door that represented us and our values and aesthetics.

Tom, the contractor, a very nice guy who did a good job for us in building the house, explained that we should purchase two doors: the permanent door and a temporary door. The contractor would use the temporary door during construction because it might accidentally get damaged. He would only install the permanent door near the end of the job.

We found a “door store” near where we lived on the mainland.. The large showroom includes racks and racks of doors in various sizes and designs. Many of the doors have glass or plexiglass decorative insets.

My wife, as is typical of her, spent hours studying different doors and beautiful decorative insets until she found just the right ones; a combination that would create a front door that would say “Us” to the world. We also picked out a cheap temporary door. Both doors were very heavy. Two strong employees helped load them into the back of my wife’s pickup truck.

We took the doors home, to the duplex we owned at that time with daughter and her partner on the mainland. Again, they were too heavy for us to lift by ourselves. Fortunately, some teenagers were playing football in an empty lot across the street. We asked them if they would lift the doors and put them in our garage for us. Welcoming the opportunity to show off their youthful strength, they cheerfully lifted the doors and put them in the garage. It took two of the husky young men to carry the main door.

We delivered the doors to the work site. We got our next door neighbor at the time, Tim, to help us get the doors into the truck. My wife has a bad back; it was not very safe for her to help me lift the door. I could not do it by myself.

The contractor said to take the “real door” back as he could not store it safely at the work site. It was a little irritating to drive the door back to the duplex where we lived and get my neighbor to help me unload it again.

The contractor typically worked on three houses at a time. At the time, his business was going well and he had a fairly large work crew. One Saturday morning we arranged to deliver the “real” door to the island. Terry the foreman, was supposed to meet us at the work site at 9 am.. To get there on time, we had to get up at 5 am in the morning. I arranged with Tim, our next door neighbor, to help me load the door in the truck, even though it meant he had to get up at 5 am on a Saturday morning. My wife had taken a dislike to Tim before she ever talked to him because he always had a dozen cars sitting on his front lawn, most of them in various states of assembly, dis-assembly, and repair. My wife thought Tim’s constant auto repair projects made our neighborhood look like a white trash headquarters. But, in fact, Tim proved to be a very pleasant neighbor in various ways, not least when he cheerfully agreed to get up at 5 am on a Saturday morning to help me load the door into our truck.

We loaded the door at 5 am, caught a ferry, and arrived at the work site about 9 am. The not quite finished house stood empty. There was no sign of Terry. We knew Tom, the contractor, was off island on other business. We did not have a phone number for Terry, the foreman. We sat around the work site in our truck for about an hour, extremely frustrated and irritated.

In the early days of his blog, David Rochester would write little stories about the irritations and frustrations of his life I called “Rochesterisms.” This was clearly a Rochesterism; not really a disaster, but certainly maddening.

We debated what to do. We were irritated at the prospect of making the long trip back to the mainland, unloading the door, and doing it all over again another day.

We drove the five miles back into the nearest town on the island. We stopped at a pleasant coffee shop and had some tea and pastries to console ourselves in our irritation and frustration. Having a house built is a stressful and anxiety producing activity. My wife and I stared at each other in gloom. We wondered if we should drive the five miles out to the work site just in case Terry the foreman had arrived. We decided to take the trouble.

In gloom we drive the five miles in silence. We drove down the gravel private road to the site where our house was being constructed. There was no sign of Terry the foreman.

We trudged up the driveway to our truck. Just as we got up to the truck, we saw Terry’s truck pull up.

He got out, explained that an problem had occurred at one of the other work sites. Apparently a building inspector had decided the other house did not meet code, and Terry had been forced to rush to the site and deal with the problem while his boss, Tom, was out of town.

We drove our truck back down the driveway.

Terry, the foreman, is a man of average height and build, as am I. I prepared to help him lift the door. Terry lifted the door by himself and carried it to the house by himself and propped it against the wall next to the construction door and my wife and I stared in amazement and admiration.

“There,” he said. “I’ll have the crew install it on Monday.”

My wife and I thanked him effusively, got back in our truck, and drove back toward the ferry dock, our load lighter and our hearts singing.


Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas





9 Responses to “The Heavy Door”

  1. tammie Says:

    : ) lovely ending, and the photo of the sweet peas is also lovely.

  2. Pete Says:

    Nothing beats a happy ending, especially when it happens to two depressed but very lovable people!

  3. modestypress Says:

    Thank you, Tammie and Pete.

    There is a little bit of a follow-up to this story. A few months ago, I was in town and someone greeted me. It was one of those irritating moments when I meet someone I know I know but can’t remember name and relationship.

    While I was stalling, it popped into my mind: this was Tom, the contractor. In the four years since he built our house, our nation and our region has been in a quasi-depression, and lot of it having to with real estate.

    Tom is still in business, but barely, down to one small crew that works part time at best. His foreman, Terry, the incredibly strong foreman, now works on boats instead of houses. Tom is lucky to get four houses a year as projects at the moment.

  4. spectrum2 Says:

    I like the smell of sweet peas. I cannot pick up a door of normal size, unless it weighs less than 40 lbs.

  5. I love the picture of the sweet peas. I’m glad you remembered to tell the story of the heavy front door.

  6. … and all was well that ended well.

    It’s important to have a proper front door. That is, after all, your gateway to the world.

  7. pandemonic Says:

    I love the sweet peas. Oh, and the front door and the story.


  8. woo Says:

    Is Terry married? If not, please package him up carefully and send him my way. I like handy strong men. Or I would, if I ever got close to one…

  9. modestypress Says:

    I have no idea of Terry’s marital status if any, but as he is now involved with boat building, he does sound perfect for Australia.

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