Grinning GarageDoorGary

Is this your work face?

work face DSC_6444 .jpg

Gary: “I’m passionate about it.”

Love those words.

I came back from a boardwalk bike ride…empty camera in tow. Sometimes I can hardly peddle my way home, camera’s so loaded down with photos. Still it was a refreshing February bike ride.

I stopped off at Gentle Brew on the boardwalk and had a new-for-me, mocha half-caff, deftly produced by barista, Elena. I sipped in the weirdly warm February sun at the table outside. I chatted with other customers about Polar Bear plunges and oystercatchers.

When I biked back to our condo’s garage there was a repair truck at the edge of the driveway. I had noticed upon leaving that the door wasn’t closing evenly so deduced that was the purpose of the repair…true detective story here.

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In the midst of his job I asked Gary the repairman how he was doing. “Doing great, keeping very busy,” he said. There was a distinctive spark in his reply.

I think, “This guy’s working on a beautiful Saturday and he says happily, ‘Doing great?'” So I asked him if he liked his job and he said, “I love it, I’ve been doing this for 37 years. I’m passionate about it.” My ears grew proportionately taller and wider.

Gary started his garage door career when he was seventeen and in high school, working for a garage door company in the summer. He told his dad college wasn’t for him and he wanted to continue in the garage door field. His dad said, “Go for it.”

At first he “contracted out” for work, then he married a garage door company secretary. Finally, he ran and still runs his own company, Long Island Garage Doors, better known as, Garage Door Gary:

Gary told me a bit about the details of the job. I had no chore in eliciting garage door tech from Gary. His enthusiasm was as electric as the powerful door motor above his head.

He has about fifty pairs of door springs on the truck, he said; each door needs just the right pair of springs, “too light and the door will slam, too heavy and it will jet back up too fast.”


When the door is closed tension is on the springs all the time and the springs break occasionally. He said he averages coming to our condo building about twice a year, (Seems to me his truck is present more often, maybe he meant twice a year on Saturdays) But he said our doors take a beating with so many cars and only one door to exit and enter.

There are better garage door systems, Gary explained. A standard garage door set-up costs about $2,000. But they do make hydraulic doors that don’t work on a spring system. However, they cost about $40,000. So I guess that’s why most condos and similar buildings stick to the standard set up.

The standard motor is a bit noisy too, especially for the apartment immediately above the door. Gary says the noise is actually louder in the apartment than in the garage, “It’s steel running on steel,” and it carries right through.  (Might be a consideration for those thinking of moving into a high rise with an underground garage.) Gary said they make quiet motors but that too costs more. The standard motor costs about $750-$800, the quiet motor $3,500.

I saw that Gary was a wise enlistee in the army of contented people I’ve come upon who love what they are doing for a living. And it shows in Gary’s face, demeanor and obvious enthusiasm. (There were times in my own career when I thought, “I can’t believe I get paid for having so much fun.”)

Gary said he has two workers but both are out sick this weekend. He’s been handling the calls himself since seven this morning, it was now about two. But he’s not whining when he says he’s doing all his work alone this weekend, he grins like an open garage door with a ’59 Buick grill coming at ya.


Gary has repaired the city of Long Beach’s transportation buildings’ doors after hurricane Sandy, he has many gas stations and fire departments on his client list and a few big names, ex-Sen Al D’Amato was mentioned.

Gary said, “Two Saturdays ago a Hempstead fireman backed into a garage door he thought was open…it wasn’t.” He said firemen often damage doors and vehicles. He said, “They are so amped up to go that they hit the door before it has fully opened, damaging both the door and the truck’s roof rack.”

I think Gary is the epitome of success. He chose an occupation that he really liked. He knows all about garage doors through decades of experience. Gary is one of legions of happy workers who through knowledge and experience have gained expertise and the accordant reputation. People recognize his skill, reliability. They pass on what they see.

Gary said he doesn’t have to advertise, “It’s all word of mouth. People say, ‘Call Garage Door Gary.’” Among his customers are all  the high rises on my block of condos.

Gary has thousands of clients all across Long Island. He doesn’t hear from some for years because they don’t have much trouble. Some, like our condo, call more often due to heavy door use. Gary said, “One garage door to handle so many cars coming and going?” Then he just shrugged. But the silence was broken by his eloquent grin.

Here he was, on a February Saturday in NY working on a garage door. But his face said he was standing, rod in hand…fishing off a faraway stern .


Gary w rod vign .jpgI think Gary’s work day, work week, work life is the result of a successful choice. I think it affected his family, his friends, his customers, others he came in contact with..during his entire working life.

No one need dictate how one will be employed in their short time on this planet, it’s a very personal choice. And success is all about being the right person in the right place. It’s finding the fit of your personal passion, then learning and applying  what you’ve learned with diligence.

It’s becoming expert in your  work. Word will then travel, you will be in demand. People will see your results. The perceptive will even see the joy in your face when you do your work…because you fit what you do, hand in glove. Or in Gary’s choice, hand in glove on steel spring.

Gary has a daughter who he said didn’t want to go to college, she wanted to be a beautician. Gary said, “Go for it.” She’s working at it for two years now, he told me. I Got a funny feelin’ how that’s gonna go.

Be well,

See my sister blog:

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