“Donk” is the sound of failure

The AI-generated monster Home Depot represents how I feel inside.

We had been using one of those screen-curtains with magnets on our back door. The hope was that we could keep the back door open, keep out the bugs, and let the poodle roam in and out as he pleased. It was unsightly but maybe it would work well enough during the spring and summer, then we could take it down in the winter.

The screen curtain would never hang just right so that the magnets could reattach themselves. The tail of the curtain would get caught under the door. Wind, rain, and two summers of use made the curtain ratty. The poodle would nose his way through the screen, then it would just hang open. Passing through the door as a human meant a sideways pirouette to keep the curtain from getting hung up on your shoulders and snagging on your face.

What we needed was a screen door with a doggy door built in. I measured our door. I shopped around. I measured some more. Did some more shopping. I went to Home Depot and eyeballed door options. Yes, yes! This should work. An aluminum screen door should be able to attach onto the external door frame just fine. Standard door, 32” by 80”. This should work. It will work!

I ordered a door from the Home Depot. It arrived weeks earlier than scheduled. They also shipped it to the Home Depot in Beaverton, instead of North Portland. No matter. I took our big Toyota out to the papier-mâché he’ll scape that is the Beaverton suburbs to collect our door. I waited while a young man fetched my order from “the cage”. What else is in the cage? Can I see the cage?

I folded down back seats, and scooted up front seats and with a little effort and box bending I got the door in the back of the car and headed home. I stashed the door in the basement until I had a good weekend to work on it. It is heavy. Everything is made out of MDF now - Medium Density Fiberboard, aka sawdust and glue - it weighs a ton.

The next free and sunny Saturday arrived and I hauled the door out of the basement. I read and reread the instructions. I carefully cut open the box and laid everything out so the door could lean against our back steps while protected by the cardboard box. I picked up the door and flipped it around a few times until I was sure I had everything in the right position. If I’m standing here, and I’m outside, then the handle is here and the hinges are here. Great. Got it. I drilled holes and mounted the hinge to the door - one long aluminum frame which mounts the door to the wall. I heaved the door into place and kept it in position with a few well placed shims. I popped some screws into the door frame. Things are looking good. The rest of the door frame goes on without a problem and I’m almost ready to install the handle and the rest of the hardware. First I test the door. It swings open easily…

…and the top corner of the door strikes the low overhanging eaves of our roof. Donk. I try again. Donk.

Our home is an old gable-front rectangle. The eaves come down low on the sides of the building and there is not enough clearance for a swing-out door.

Complete failure.

After all that prep and planning I never considered the clearance under the roof. I took the door down and stored it back in the basement. I filled my freshly drilled holes with caulk. I went and had a large beer and a bahn-mi in the neighborhood.

I couldn’t return the door. It’s full of holes where I attached hinges. I guess I can donate it? I ended up buying a retractable screen. A frame that goes up on the exterior doorframe which conceals a rolled up screen. Slides out and clicks into place.

Not what I wanted, won’t allow the dog in and out, but it will keep the bugs out. After I get everything installed and the packing materials put away I leave the back door open for some fresh air.

The poodle ran straight into the closed screen door. Donk.

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