Saturday, January 5, 2008

Chasing the piano

Tift Merritt bestowed upon the Holsapples a Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano several weeks ago. "It gets to stay in the family!" effused Ms. Merritt, herself a talented ivory-tickler. We, too, were thrilled, since my job is basically one that involves keyboard instruments most of the time; the last piano I had was Smart Wife's childhood spinet which bit the dust in Katrina, unfortunately. Our little kids will be subject to piano lessons, and now they have one for the hours of practice they will undoubtedly be putting in.

I arranged with a company, who shall remain nameless, to move the piano from Tift's place out in the boonies to our urban hideaway in the Bull City for a flat rate. It was substantially less than what is known in the business as a "professional" piano mover would charge, and perhaps my radar should have registered that but it didn't. I felt like I'd found a bargain. We arranged that the movers would call an hour before they were ready to meet me, between three and four pm.

Today, while shopping with the family at a chain bookstore (who shall also remain nameless), I got a call from the movers' dispatcher around 2:00pm, alerting me that they'd gotten finished early with their other deliveries and that they'd be at the pick-up location in about a half an hour. I shoved the family through checkout, into their seats and back home in a hurry, then printed directions to Tift's abode and shot back out the door.

It takes about a half hour to get there from our house. There are directions that say that street names change along the way, and there's a section of the route where the pavement ends and you can kick up a lot of dust. I scuttled along and pulled in to the driveway, eagerly anticipating the movers' imminent arrival.

I waited about a half an hour then called the dispatcher. "Oh, they had one of the engine lights go on, and they've stopped at Penske." Any idea when they'll be here? "We'll call you when they're on their way."

Okay.

Time to kill, something I don't usually find myself with much of. I sat in the car and did the Independent crossword from two weeks ago, Christmas themed. Almost got it all completed, too.

Still no one.

An hour passed. I called the dispatcher again. "They just left Raleigh, and they should be there in half an hour to forty-five minutes." Sigh.

More waiting. I made a couple phone calls, then got outside and enjoyed the silence of rural North Carolina for a few moments until I got cold again and got back in the car.

VRRROOOOM. There they are! There they go! Right past the driveway! I leaned on the horn, and they backed the truck up to the drive, then began backing down the driveway.

I explained to the driver where the piano was. There was something of a language barrier between us, but I understood "credit card" and "sign here and here and here and here and here." While I was negotiating the ten pages of paperwork, the driver and his two helpers were busy swinging the ramp into place.

They used no straps on the piano dolly but they kept it steady and off the ground. Some of the angles they had the ramp today were beyond the laws of geometry as far as I could tell. They strapped it to the wall of the truck with a moving blanket on, stowed the ramp, shut the door and they were off.

Like a rocket, they were off.

Our first turn was onto the unpaved road, and they were a cloud of dust before I could make the turn. I may be from North Carolina, but my moonshine-runnin' driving skills leave a lot to be desired, especially in our little Subaru wagon. It was a hard fight, but I wanted to keep them in my line of sight, since they had my new piano on board.

We made it back to pavement about seven miles later, and I still couldn't keep up. These guys were fast.

I got past them eventually on I-85 near our exit by doing about 75 mph. I wanted to get in the driveway before they tried to back in.

When we got to our house, they sized up the situation and decided it'd be easier to mount all the steps in front to get the Baldwin in. So that's what they did, and at the same alarming rate of speed that they'd driven at. I was sure it was not going to make the corner in the entrance hall, but the movers knew it would and it did. I bet they wanted to be done for the day.

But man, we got a piano now! I got to play on it for about fifteen minutes of sheer bliss before the family came home and I had to get geared up for the show tonight. More to come.

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Yay!

esceezeroten said...

Peter,
I'm sure it was worth all the internal gnawing and cramping. The Acrosonic remains my fave upright spinet for its percussive brilliance. Though I was ultimately denied what I had assumed was a clear shot at ownership, I remember playing one and thinking it was almost like having power steering after using a stickshift for so long.
One of your passionate and literate odes to the Acrosonic would make my day! Just sayin'...
Steve Carosello