I was inspired to write this story by a fellow technicians’ comment about the unusual people she’s met during her many years in the field. Before I dive in, however, I want to reiterate my concern for maintaining the anonymity of my subjects. This, as with others I’ve written about, is one of my best customers and has been for many years. He is a monster piano player and has great passion for music and the instrument. As always, I’ll do my best to give you an interesting story without revealing any identifying information about this marvelously talented man.
Anyone who works in the service industry has been confronted by individuals who display odd behavior. Most of the time it’s benign and not so disruptive as to prevent completing the job.
Sometimes, however, you walk away wondering what happened. This is one of those situations.
My first visit was on a referral from a local piano dealer for a “free” tuning offered to one of their rental customers. I arrived at the apartment, was greeted by the renter and shown to the piano (a studio upright that was placed against the wall near the front door). As I opened it up and prepared to commence work he stood a few feet behind me talking, I presumed, to someone else in the room.
Softly giggling to each other and passing comments about the fact that I was from Steinway and how talented I must be to represent such a prestigious piano manufacturer. I ignored it for a few minutes until they started whispering to each other. I’m not a fearful person but it all sounded a bit conspiratorial. I reasoned that, like so many others, they were just trying to be quiet so I could hear the piano. But whispering is actually more distracting than normal conversation.
I’ve worked in some very noisy environments and achieved good results but with the their chatter behind me and the traffic noise coming through the windows from the boulevard below, I was having some difficulty hearing the instrument.
So, I turned around to speak to them and found just the one guy standing there. Assuming that the other had left the room, I explained to him that he would get better results if I was left undisturbed while I completed my task. He was very polite and apologized before he too left the room.
A few minutes later their conversation, which was joined by three other people in the kitchen, turned into an argument. One of them was very agitated and the others, especially the younger of the two women, were trying to calm him down. But he was irate about something that one of the older gentlemen had said and was quite adamant about rebuking the others statement.
After about ten minutes of this the volume level reached the point where I was unable to hear the notes I was trying to tune so I went into the kitchen to ask them if they’d hold it down.
To my amazement there was just the one guy, my client, siting at the table. Um?
As I said at the start, I’ve been working for this gentle man for many years now. He keeps me busy with more broken strings than a Baptist church and always in need of tuning because he insists on keeping the windows open so he can see the ocean.
One of the most wonderful aspects of human beings is our adaptability – you just get used to things.