I really want a piano. If my kids love playing it, great, but if they don’t, I don’t want to be stuck with an ugly piano that no one plays. I would at least prefer to be stuck with a pretty piano that no one plays.
I’d been researching pianos for a while and the only one I wanted was the Baldwin Acrosonic circa 1964. It’s gorgeous— a smaller spinet piano, mid-century modern cabinet, and it would look great in the room of our house we call “the lobby”. But these cost upwards of $1000. Then, in a quiet corner of eBay when no one else was watching, I found one. For $350 bucks! No major damage, all keys working. It was all the way across the country in Illinois, but I could afford to have it shipped since the price was so cheap. Within hours, I had won the auction. So easy!
The seller, Lorenzo, placed the job on UShip. UShip is a company that manages shipping jobs. You post your job, movers make bids. We got a few low bids, but they were shady. Like, it would just be one guy and I’d have to find three more guys on the receiving end to help him unload it. No. I needed professional piano movers. That pretty little instrument is still 500 pounds. A few more bids came in, but no one wanted to do the most important part of the job, unload it! Movers are one lazy bunch.
One day a bid came in from movers who would actually do the work I would be paying them to do— or so it seemed. It would cost $600 to move the piano from Illinois to LA. Still under the $1000 limit I’d had for the piano. So I said yes. They picked it up from Lorenzo and drove away. They were to call me to arrange a delivery date.
But no one called me.
Lorenzo apologized profusely and said he was trying to get in touch with them. He suggested I also “put the heat on them.” I called UShip and got the mover’s number. I called several times, “Please call me back, just trying to find out about my piano…” A week later I hear from a woman named Rosie who apologizes for the delay as she was “just released from the hospital.” I don’t really care about Rosie. “So when is my piano coming?” Timothy is leaving tomorrow, she says. Apparently, Timothy’s the brawn of this operation. Great. Will it be here by Thanksgiving? “Oh, yes, it will definitely be there by Thanksgiving. I will call you every day he’s on the road. I could also take pictures of it so you know it’s safe, and email them to you?”
Just bring me my piano, thanks.
And then I waited.
And then the piano never came.
I didn’t know why they didn’t just put the key in the ignition of their stupid van and bring me my piano, because the only way UShip would give them my $600 was if they delivered the goods. Seriously, pack a bag, throw a case of redbull in there, put the grateful dead in the tape deck and get truckin’.
But I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I assumed they were waiting to fill up their truck with more merch destined for LA, so they could make the most of their trip out here. I get it. They’re movers. They need to make money. Juilliard isn’t waiting for my kids’ early admission to the music program. I’m in no rush. So I cut them more slack.
And then I got a little impatient. Because it was like, 3 months since I’d bought it, and now I wanted my motherfucking piano.
So I left some motherfucking messages.
“I want my piano. Call me back immediately.”
“If you don’t call me back immediately I will call the police.”
“You have my piano, and if you don’t bring it to me, I will call the police. And then someone else will bring me my piano!”
Finally someone called me back. She left this voice message:
“Yeah, I got a message on my phone— something about your piano. I know nothing about your piano. You need not to call my house and tell me that I need to call you ASAP, because I know nothing about a piano. If you got an issue with delivery, something with a piano, you’re calling the wrong people.”
It was Rosie, but not meek, little “Hospital Rosie”. Not “I’ll Call You Everyday and Photo-Document the Journey of Your Beloved Piano Rosie”. This was like Fuel-Injected Rosie. Mustang Rosie 5.0. She had my piano but she was flat-out lying about it! At this point I realized I had entered a world beyond my comprehension of shadiness: Suburban Illinois.
But hey, when you buy cheap this is what comes with the territory, right? Had I purchased this from a reputable dealer, I’d pay for someone else to have it safely shipped. I’d know exactly when I’d receive it and I’d know that when I received it, it would be in fine working condition. It might even come with legal documents stating it’s history and that it came from a smoke-free home. But you know me by now. I like deals. And I like stories. So this is how I roll.
I thought about calling her back.
Bitch, bring me my Baldwin!
But I did not do that. I did not say bitch bring me my Baldwin, because I did not want her to hurt my Baldwin. And that’s when this became real. Because now I care about that little piano. I care about that little piano I have never even touched and am not even sure is capable of playing music. I have fallen too far down the rabbit hole. I have developed an emotional connection to that piano. I love that little piano. I want to rub teak oil all over that little piano and make it shine. I want that little piano to fill the walls of our home with music, beautiful music, which we so desperately need. I want that piano to come home.
I talked to Lorenzo, and we commiserated about having been taken. He speculated that this Timothy and Rosie duo had a bunch of stuff in a storage locker and the storage locker people wouldn’t let them get their stuff till they paid their rent. They were stuck, literally locked out of their money-making possibilities. Very sad. But still, fuckers.
But I love that piano. A piano that might not even work, and will cost a fortune to rebuild and tune and whatever else piano stuff happens….
So I waited. And I waited. Because you never know, right?
But nothing happened. It was a blow. I felt like I owed it to my family to put this saga behind us. It was time for me to get my $350 back from Lorenzo, and my $600 back from uship.
I emailed Lorenzo.
Hi Lorenzo. I need to know if the piano is coming. If it is not, I need to file charges. Please call me at your earliest convenience. Thank you.
And he responded:
I HAVE REQUESTED USHIP TO REFUND YOUR DELIVERY PAYMENT, THEY HAVE GIVEN TIMOTHY 24 HOURS TO RESPOND, I HAVE REQUESTED YOUR PIANO BACK FROM TIMOTHY, I AM IN THE MIDDLE AND I AM SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ANGUISH FROM BOTH SIDES AND I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. FILE WHAT EVER CHARGES YOU WANT, IF I EVER SEE THIS PIANO AGAIN I AM GOING TO POUR GASOLINE ON IT AND BURN IT.
I read that email while waiting in line for my car at the hospital. I’d just visited my elderly father-in-law who was in ICU with pneumonia. We weren’t sure if he would make it. It was also Hanukkah… and Christmas. And when I read the part about gasoline and burning it, I felt like that was happening to my heart.
The valet pulled up with my car and I buckled the girls in. I vowed to avoid purchasing items heavier than 20 pounds on eBay, and decided to focus on ringing in the new year having lost and learned. “How about guitar lessons, ladies?”
He did not set it alight, and it looked great. But he sure did take his time finding a new mover to deliver it.
I get it Lorenzo. We all need a vacation. And sometimes a vacation after the vacation.
Today he sent me photos, photos of some dudes loading what may or may not be my piano, and may or may not be in the condition I purchased it in, which was never really known in the first place… and so maybe it’s on its way, but no one has called me to arrange a delivery date…
My expectations are low, but I am excited by the idea that I might one day get my little piano. I purchased it with this no big deal attitude— if they play it they play it, but since then, I’ve changed my tune. My kids are gonna play that piano, folks. We are all gonna play that piano. Mommy, Daddy, the girls, Zeyde (now healthy), my friends, my neighbors, YOU if you ever come visit. Everyone. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. We won’t just take lessons, we’ll have piano-themed parties and we’ll pose in boas and long cigarette holders surrounding that piano. WE ARE ALL ABOUT THAT GODDAMN PIANO.
Just as soon as it gets here.