re-doing my apartment, and my piano is very big.
It’s an old Sohmer upright from I believe
So I decided to donate it to
Housing Works, a charity for AIDS-related things. Housing Works takes
pianos in good condition, but they only move them down two steps, not four, and
my stoop is four steps high.
I have a contractor
who is fixing up my apartment, who agreed to get a couple of guys to move the piano
down to the sidewalk.
In my defense, I told
them it was a Big Piano.
I cried over it for a little while, and
then the three guys showed up to move it.
My job was to guard the truck parked in front of a fire hydrant down the
street and to drive it around the block if needed. I was watching the action through the rear view mirror. I saw the piano emerge from the building and hover
over the steps; it looked shaky; it was verging on a 45 degree angle; I decided
not to watch. In a few minutes I looked
back and it was on its way across the sidewalk.
I did notice there wasn’t any celebrating going on. I climbed out of the
truck, and there they were, holding one of my beautiful piano’s wheels,
attached to a 4 x 4 inch splinter of antique wood.
It didn’t seem too bad, so we left it on the curb for
Housing Works, feeling it would be safe enough in this Upper East Side
neighborhood. A few people walked by and each one had to
play something, if only a few notes. Finally Housing Works shows up with two
representatives, who stand there appraising this 94 year old antique.
“This key doesn’t
work,” said one.
“What happened to the wheel?” said number two.
“It’s an old piano,” I said.
“It broke when we carried it down the stairs.”
“Why didn’t you wait for us?” said number one.
“The dispatcher said you wouldn’t take it down more than two
“We can’t, but we could have helped! It’s really a shame. After all those years, and now it’s ruined.”
“It’s not ruined, it’s an antique!” I said. There was a pause.
“We can’t take this piano,” they said.
I was dumbfounded.
“We don’t do any repairs.
It would sit there at an angle just like this and nobody would buy it.” “We’d
have to call sanitation and pay them to take it away.”
“But it’s an antique!”
“And they key is broken,” added number one. “I’m sorry.”
Now I don’t know what to do, and I am trying not to get
furious and not to cry. Here I am on the
sidewalk, with a piano that weighs nearly a ton with a broken foot! Finally my Super comes over and tries to get a
couple of scrap people to pick it up, but they don't pick up pianos, so it
seems. I can’t take it back inside; it weighs over a thousand pounds.
“Just leave it here,”
my Super says.
"I can’t leave it on the curb; this is the Upper East Side!"
“Trust me; this piano
will be gone by tomorrow afternoon at the latest."
“It's a piano!” I
said. It needs a truck!”
“Trust me,” he says. “They'll come back with a truck.”
By this time neighbors are hanging out the windows.
Some I had never seen before. They are hanging out, since every
person who walks by has to play the piano, and they are all leaving happy, more or less.
The Doorman next door comes over to watch, and he says he'll buy
me a cup of coffee if the piano is still here tomorrow morning. My Super
says if I want to be sure, put a sign on saying “Free Piano".
The sign is up for a couple of minutes when along comes a
passerby. He plays the piano for a few seconds. “Are you sure you want
to give away this piano?” “Yes.” “Does
it work?" "Yes". "What's wrong with it?"
"Nothing, except the wheel is broken."
He arpeggios a couple of times. He plays a few chords. “You've been
playing this piano, the action is great! Why are you giving it away?" “It's too big for me.” “How long have you had
it?” “Since 1978.” He notices the broken key. "This is easy to fix," he says. “I need another piano, and I have just
the spot for it.”
“It’s an antique," I say. "it was born in 1918.”
“It’s beautiful,” he says.
By now the original
movers/contractors have come outside, and the contractor tells this guy he will
find him a new wheel and come over to put it on. So my three contractors,
my super, and the piano guy get a couple of dollies and roll the piano up the
street. They hand carry it over his
marble floor without leaving a smudge, and put it into the spot he has been saving for a second piano.
It turns out this person is a pianist, who writes music, who
loves the piano, who needs a piano, who has the perfect spot for a piano, lives two doors up the street and has a career in finance on the side. He played a little bit for
the movers, and my contractor says he has beautiful hands. I was sitting
in the Contractor Truck during the saga, watching for the fire-hydrant police. The
pianist made me promise to come over and play it anytime.
So my piano that I love has a home in a luxury apartment
with a musician who writes music, knows how to play, and who saw the value in a
broken antique piano on the sidewalk for free. What a tale of circumstance and Karma.
The night before I was talking with my mentor, Jane C. I hadn't
heard from the contractor yet, and I told her I was about to get angry. She
said, “Oh honey don’t get angry. Sometimes God needs time to get everything
in place and to arrange all the details. It takes time to make sure the piano can go exactly where it’s meant to be,
to exactly the right person.”
|Three Principle Players in the Piano Donation Saga|