Off Track

IIMG_20150326_122117 should have noticed the signs.

– A grinding metal shriek

– The door catching one, two, then three times when shutting

– Rattling

– Shaking

– A small, plastic roller wheel tumbling to the parking lot asphalt

But no. I was clueless. I sprayed half a can of WD-40 in the three rails and hoped for the best. I refused to pay $189 to have the dealer diagnose the problem.

That’s how I ended up at Walmart calling a tow truck when my van’s sliding door fell off.

Who knew I was strong enough to yank it right off two of its three tracks?

It was hanging by a corner metal piece when I popped it back to upright position. And I was stranded with my 2-year old and my baby, just two days before I needed the van for a 10-hour family road trip.

If only I could have traded that can of lubricant for a trip to the mechanics shop. Obviously there was more going on than a little grease could fix.

I plopped down on an extended child’s seated cart, in the spot next to my two year old, and tried to hold it together while devising a plan.

I called he dealer who put a call into a towing company. Someone could be there in 45 minutes. That gave me time to get my groceries. There was just one problem. How could I leave my van unattended with a gaping hole in its side? Surely someone would get in and take all the toys and goodies I bought moments before at the dollar store. Right?

Probably not, but if you know me you know that I’m paranoid about locking things up. I have to check our locks multiple times before leaving for anything. I’ve even been known to drive back home and check them again because I wasn’t sure.

Unfortunately my van won’t lock with the key chain unless all the doors are shut. It’s kind of hard to shut a door that’s off its track. I sat there for a good 10 minutes before realizing I could lock the doors manually.  Like I did in the good old days before we owned a vehicle with automatic locks.

I pushed the broken door closed as good as I could and crossed my fingers that no one would try to open it. It would definitely cause a stir if they did. Then I turned the key in the driver’s door and headed into the store.

After a frazzled trip into an unfamiliar Walmart, a mishap with some coupons at the check stand and a few phone calls from the tow guy, I made it to my van just it time to see it wheeled onto the truck and carried away.


I packed everything I thought I might need from the van – shopping bags, car seats, you name it – into a grocery cart and waited in the parking lot for my mom. I felt a little like one of the characters from The Road – a book my book club just finished reading. There I sat with all of the stuff I could carry in a shopping cart.

Luckily she pulled up a minute later.

She rescued me and the two younger ones and the van headed to the dealer.

Long story short, the dealer ordered a part, fixed the middle rollers on the driver’s side sliding door and $225 later our van was as good as new. It was a crazy mishap and a serious inconvenience, but we survived.

Who does this kind of stuff happen to? Me.

Not just once, but twice.

When I was growing up the sliding door fell off of our golden Astro minivan. We were eating out at the Golden Corral when it popped off the track while opening. That night we wired it shut with some string and wire we bought at a nearby store, then my grandpa held it closed as we made our way up a steep hill to visit the Bountiful Utah Temple Dedication. It was a memorable occasion.

Just like my recent Walmart trip.

Maybe my family doesn’t realize its own sliding-door shutting strength.

I’m not careful this could happen to me a third time. The dealer informed me that the rollers on the passenger side sliding door are starting to rattle.

Time to start laying off the vitamins.


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