Way back in the summer of 2003, a man was working on adding a window to a door frame. He had instructions on how to put the window in the door frame, and how to make sure that the window would open and close without any trouble. All he had to do was tighten a few screws and make sure that he tested the window inside the frame, so that it went up and down on command. The tradesman had been hired to attach the windows to the doors, and to install a special apparatus so that the window would rise up and down in the sash with ease.
Apparently this person went to lunch one day and forgot to tighten the bolts. No matter, he thought. They’ll never come loose. It’s not like the window will ever fall out of the door. And even if it does, that’s probably hundreds of years in the future. He probably thought about that as he ate a cold sandwich and drank a hot cup of coffee on a beautiful summer day. Lunch was over, and he went back to work.
Meanwhile, that window sat nestled in the door frame. Another worker, assuming that the first tradesman had bolted the window in properly, added other fixtures and components. The window was now sealed inside the door. A third worker tested the window. It rose and fell at his control. Everything looked fine.
The window and the door were assembled. Eventually the window and the door became part of a bigger project, and was later purchased with that project in 2005.
Five years later, the window and door found a new owner.
And last Sunday, the careless mistake by the worker – by not bolting the window into the door frame in such a way that it would not move – nearly cost me my life.
See, the window and door I’m talking about are the driver’s side door and window on my 2005 Saturn Ion. I’m driving back from the basketball tournament, and I need to get some fresh air in the car. Air conditioning is nice, but you can only stand so much of it before your arms feel like you’ve dipped them in cake frosting.
So I pressed the button to lower my driver’s side window.
Not something you want to hear at 65 miles an hour – on the middle lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike – where everybody else is going 75 miles an hour or faster, and they’re zipping by you like you’re Dave Blaney at a NASCAR race.
I quickly assessed the situation – as best as I could while driving a mile a minute on the Pike.
The window wasn’t broken – thank God – but it had popped out of its housing and was tilted so that the back point of the window – which normally locks into the back corner of the door frame when the window is closed – is now pointing straight up. If I try to close the window, it could shatter upon impact with the top of the door frame.
I somehow guided the car over to the breakdown lane. Pulled over. Hit the flashers. Made sure I was far enough off the side of the road so as to not get run over and turn my car into a 3-door sedan.
I gingerly wiggled the window back into the tracks. It tilted forward.
A little coaxing and a light touch to the power window controls, and I was able to finesse the window back into its proper upright position.
Great, Chuck – you’ve fixed a car window.
Or maybe you haven’t.
I slowly pressed the power window controls down.
The window tilted out of position.
Another five minutes to guide the window back into shape.
Monday morning, and I know where I’m going. DePaula Chevrolet.
Bobby the floor manager, the person who originally helped me go through the emotional transition from Pontiac 6000 to Saturn Ion, greets me. “How’s the car treating you, Chuck?” he asks.
I tell him the car drives well, that it’s been to Quebec and to Nova Scotia – then I roll down the window.
The window pops out of its track again.
“Oh, we can’t have that,” said Bobby. Immediately he waves his hand, and a set of Goodwrench technicians arrive to take care of my car.
I get out of the car and walk around the vehicle to start filling out the paperwork – only to discover, to my shock, that the driver’s side window was not the only one out of alignment. Somehow, and I never would have noticed this, the passenger’s side front window was also out of alignment, its window point was actually out of the track and sticking up past the door frame. Had I pushed the power window controls a few seconds longer, I suspect the window would have been completely ejected from the car. Two windows in danger of a crash.
I found out later on that both windows were never bolted in properly at the factory. The DePaula technicians put some Lock-Tite sealant on the bolts, re-attached the windows, and tested everything. The windows are now working in the proper format and alignment. Whew.
All because someone at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee either didn’t tighten the bolts tightly enough, or a piece of quality control was missed. Not much I can do, though – apparently power windows are not covered on the aftermarket warranty I bought.
But if I ever find out which schlub didn’t bolt my windows into the frame properly… I’m sending him a bill for the repairs and maintenance on my car windows.
Or maybe I’ll just send the bill to General Motors – considering they don’t make Saturns any more.