Saturday, June 30, 2007

Frustration and a Few Niceties

It has been an extremely frustrating time. At least for the last couple of weeks. I guess it's a combination of anticipation of lack of funds, annoyance in trying to collect the money we are due from the Gloucester Times, tunings not paid for, and people's attitudes.

To top everything off, I WAS writing this post on my laptop. I'll explain why in a bit. The laptop is annoyingly slow compared to my desktop. As I typed those words earlier, I was to learn just how ANNOYING and SLOW it was. It froze.


Nothing helped.

Not any of the bail me out tricks.

So, I held my breath and shut it off. I haven't tried it again since. Methinks it needs a bit of service!

Anyway, starting from the laptop experience and working backwards........I was trying to keep busy by taking the laptop to my folk's place. My mom wanted to get out for a while. Now, generally, I don't mind this, but she keeps asking more and more. I've tried to explain that I've got work to take care of. That I can't keep stopping what I'm doing to keep an eye on my dad while she putters in the garden. I don't think I've ever been so far behind with my work. Part of that also comes from doing other stuff that is asked. Like build a new gate for the garden or make extra trips to the dump. It seems like all her stuff gets done while meanwhile mine falls behinder and behinder (don't you dare correct my English).

It's officially been a month, plus or minus a couple days, since I tuned the piano at "The Studio" and the piano at "The Gloucester Stage Company". Both businesses have received second notices of payment due. Neither have paid. This makes me angry, it's a pain you know where for bookkeeping, and it comes when I really notice the drop in income thank-you-GDT.

Three times during the last week that I have held the door for the next person they've walked right in, never bothering to hold the door as they passed me, never a thank you. Listen people, if you think I'm a doorman (lady) then I expect a tip! I swear the next person that tries that, I'm just going to let go. So there.

I occasionally read a blog written by a fellow volunteer with WHOA. Her most recent entry was a comment on the lack of courtesy. No pleases nor thank yous, no excuse mes. Nothing.


Just to end on a brighter note.

We still continue to meet up with former newspaper customers. They are still quite supportive and express their gratitude on the service they received from Amanda and me. Word is getting around town rather quickly about the situation and there have been a couple people who have canceled their subscriptions in support even though we were not their carriers! Here's a short list of supporters. There might be more coming along!

Thank you,
Mary, Beth and John, dickiebo, Phyllis and husband, Frank, Jack and Debbie, Beth, Shirley, John, Carolyn, Marilyn, Sue, Eunice, Bob, Kerry, Al, Mr. A, Mrs. R., Mr. and Mrs. H., Candace, Mrs. A., Mr. M., Mrs. H. and Mrs. R., Margaret, Bridgette, Jean, Debbie, Rosemary, Mike M., Roger, and the DPW guys who still wave and toot horns when I'm out walking.

You all make us feel super good inside.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Yes, I probably should quit with at least some money in my pocket. Well, almost. The big boss from the GDT called today. This is the one that received the bill and the cover letter, registered mail, from me.

He has come up with some bizarre amount that he thinks we are due.

For the life of me I can't figure his math. Oh, and BTW, I was a straight A student in math, keep my own business books - that balance......

So, without names.

Customer 1 owes $14.00
Customer 2 owes $14.00
GDT sample .90

GDT won't pay for customers with less than 3 weeks due. We have to try to go back and collect in person so I'm eliminating those amounts here.

Boss says they already paid for the sample. They didn't. Their credit on the bill was for a current sample, not an arrears payment that they forgot three weeks ago.

Boss says that they have issued a check in the amount of $25.84. HUH??????

Even without the .90, they owe us $28.00.

There was some mumbling in the message that he left about deducting the current due on the bill. HUH AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????

Our bill to the GDT was paid in full and I have the check numbers (and will have the canceled checks) to prove it.

And yes, I know that I am quibbling minimally about $2.16. In reality it is more but I guess we're on our own with that.

So....I call Big Boss.

And...He's now on vacation until July 9th.

Guess what folks, he's going to have another registered letter waiting for him.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bubba the Bold

After an exhausting weekend of social events, I've gone to the birds.

First, a brief list of the social stuff.

Friday night was a wonderful retirement party for the minister (and his wife). It was held at the Rockport Country Club. The church members that organized and hosted the party did an outstanding job.

Sunday was Bob's last day as minister. The church was full. It felt really good to see everyone in attendance. There was a nice gathering afterwards but Amanda and I had to get back to the home front.

As mentioned before, Monday night was the Thacher Island meeting.

Tuesday I got up bright and early at 6:30 so that I could join Betty, Ida, and Debbie for breakfast at Flav's. We all met around 7:30 and spent just over an hour having breakfast and catching up on news.

And now for the birds........

This is Bubba.
Bubba the Bluejay.
Bubba the Brave.
Bubba the Bully.
Bubba the Brute.
Bubba the Burglar.

Bubba has discovered Squirt's walnuts. Bubba watches for Squirt's walnuts. As soon as I open the door and put one down, then turn to leave, Bubba swoops down and grabs it. I have tried hiding the walnuts under the table, under a lounge chair, even tucked under the table leg. I've hidden them under the bottom board of the deck fencing and under a bench. Bubba just lands on the top of the fence and looks all around. He hops along the fence, tilting his head this way and that, checking different places where he has found the walnuts before. And sure enough, he spots them.

Poor Squirt. He doesn't stand a chance.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Big Night Out

Well, maybe not that good, but certainly educational with a bit of social thrown in for good measure.

Tonight was the annual meeting of the Thacher Island Association. Some really nifty stuff is happening out there and I hope I can make a couple trips this summer. The Bridgeport reed organ will not be living on the island for the summer. Doc W. has decided to leave it in the waiting room of his office. Too many people are enjoying it there.

He has delivered another to me for restoration. This second organ will make the trip to sea. Schedule-wise it will probably be next summer. There will be more on that organ another time.


Later this week I'll be adding more links in the sidebar. There will be a link to the Thacher Island website. It is a super good looking site with lots of information about the island and the association. For now you can check it out from the link in this post.

The second link that I'll be adding is for The Piano Company. A top notch, full service piano business in Florida. I always like to promote the best businesses whenever I can. FP is in the process of revamping his entire site and it is looking fantastic. Check it out here for now.


I had intended on making the following an additional entry, but here it is to get it done with.


I have written a billing statement for the GDT outlining all amounts that we are due. This will be the cover letter. I hope that this will be the end of any dealings with them. I'm prepared to take it further if necessary, but I hope it won't be. I've eliminated our full names and contact info for posting here.

June 25, 2007

Enclosed please find the tally of the final amounts due to Amanda XXX. The list is comprised of customers that refused or failed to make payments upon request. Please remit this total amount to:

Amanda XXX

I anticipate that this will be handled in a timely manner and require no further action on our part. If there are any questions, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I expect that Amanda will receive a payment check within two weeks of the date above.

We have also noticed that the mixed up four routes have finally been divided logically and appropriately as we had requested for more than one year. Had this taken place in a timely fashion, we would have easily been able to find substitute delivery for our one week vacation.

Finally, the lack of the courtesy of a telephone call or message informing us that we had been replaced, after nearly four years of dependable service on behalf of the Gloucester Times, is blatantly unprofessional.



(Hmmm, when previewing this post, the letter appears to be all one paragraph. In real life it is not. I haven't a clue which way it will publish to blogger.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The K Word (and more)

Seems likely that in less than 12 hours Amanda and I will no longer be delivering newspapers.

Is this fair?

Is this just?

Is this what we want?

Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

The answer to all of the above questions is NO.

Are we angry?

Are there some customers we are glad to be rid of?

Are we determined to see that the GDT financially "makes good" for what we are due?


Amanda reminded me that we have actually been delivering papers for nearly four years. We have never had a complaint during that time. We have never missed a delivery. We walked a combined total of 9 miles per day every day except Sundays and Christmas. Including this recent vacation we have only taken twelve days off. We took the same week off last year as this year. The newspaper willingly found a substitute last year and we paid about $100.00 to that person.

This is nuts.

When we told a few of our longtime customers that we had been threatened with being fired, their consensus was that the GDT wouldn't dare. That they would be foolish if they did it. Well...there they go. Not the high road but the foolish one. Oh, and BTW, now the "boss" split our huge route(s) into two neat routes. Just as I had been asking her to do for ages. As one of my former customers commented: "Spit on her!"

But what does this have to do with kindness, the subject of this post?

I'm going to miss delivering the papers. I'll miss the hour and a half per day that I had mostly to myself. I'll miss the walking in beautiful sunshine, the insanity of soaking and driving rains, the jumping into snowbanks to avoid traffic and the plows. I'll miss "playing target" for the plow drivers and DPW drivers, waving to the police, waving to friends driving by, waving to total strangers who have decided to wave to me each day. I'll even miss visiting with the dogs and cats I've met along my route.

Mostly I'll miss the wonderful people that I have met the past four years. Some haven't even been customers. There has been such joy in the brief chats we have shared over the years.

I'll miss them.

During the last couple of days, Amanda and I have been walking to former customer's houses to return over-payments. Several customers had paid for a few weeks in advance and we owed them the money back. This gave us chance to wish them well and also to explain what had happened. The kindness and support that these customers, friends, and neighbors showed us was overwhelming. Some refused the refunds, some gave us extra cash, and some accepted their money back in part or total. A few even canceled their paper in protest and support. Others are calling and writing to the GDT. We mostly remember and appreciate the kind words and the knowing that people care.

Kindness counts. That we will never forget.

The other side of this is the financial dilemma. Amanda has requested extra hours at Stop & Shop and it appears that her boss is giving them to her. I, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of merely requesting additional hours! The extra cash that the papers brought in is needed towards bills. What to do. Seems that I will be looking for part time morning only employment.

I was getting a bit anxious about having to get something, anything, immediately. I have a small emergency reserve fund...but not enough to last for months on end.

And then...a very unexpected message on my answering machine.

The doctor that had me restore the Bridgeport reed organ had just purchased another organ. This time a Smith American organ. He wanted to know if I could work it into my schedule for restoration! Phew. I'll still have to get morning employment, but this job just gained me a little thinking and breathing room.

More updates to come............8 hours and counting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

52 Gone By

Thank goodness my birthday is over. I wasn't going to post about it until dickiebo, my birthday "twin", blogged his botched birthday. Then I just couldn't resist a little one-up-manship (in the broader sense of the word man, please).

Shall I begin by saying that the last birthday that I remember as being truly okay was sixteen years ago? I know this because it was okay enough that I don't really remember anything about it in particular. Doc and I were still married, Amanda was nine. We lived in Florida. My mom and dad lived about 2 miles from us and although they summered in Rockport, they always waited to leave for the north until after my birthday. We were normal. Well, whatever normal really is, we were close to it even with our unique style. Life was pretty good.

Then divorce came for Doc and me. Our final date in court was just 6 days after my birthday (and 1 day after our 15th anniversary). Doc was still living in the home, that as custodial parent, I would stay in with Amanda. My mom and dad came over for dinner, cake, and gifts. For Amanda, we all smiled at one another and feigned cordial behavior.

For the next 10 birthdays it was just Amanda and me. Oh we celebrated my birthday, but in April along with Amanda's and my mom's. My folks had moved north and were only wintering in Florida. As Amanda got a bit older, the two of us would just go out for a special dinner on THE day.

My birthday of 2002 was spent in court. My divorce from a short marriage to a Brit was finalized on that day. (The judge asked and I told him..."best gift I have ever gotten")

Now that we all live in Rockport, you'd think birthdays might be fun once again. My mom and I plan my dad's, I plan my mom's and Amanda's. When it comes to my birthday they all want me to plan that, too. Really bugs me that I have to act as referee between the rest of the gang. It's usually weeks of grandma says this or that, Amanda wants this or that, what do you want to eat, what kind of cake, lunch or dinner.....on and on. Gee folks, it's too much work having a birthday. Just do what you want and it'll be fine at this point. Really, really, REALLY! I give up.

So year 52 is finished. Did I get some stuff I wanted? You bet. Mom and dad bought me a lot of the 1X4s that I need to finish the woodwork in our new home. Yes, I actually had that on my list! Amanda got me the most luxurious set of bed sheets that I have ever owned. I love them. She also got me a watering can. Sort of a fun gift as it replaces the one she broke last year. And of course, Jayne sent Squirt. Mary remembered, and other than Amanda who got up super early to wish me a Happy Birthday, was the first local to wish me a HB. I got some great cards. Some with beautiful flowers and words and the "whipped cream card" from Sue. I got this card from the contractor that built our house. His birthday is today. A day after mine. It's become a "thing" to exchange cards. On the inside it says, "In honor of your birthday kitty wanted to make a special drink just for you". I love the determined look on that cat's face! Such purpose. LOL

The down side...I still had to play referee. A position I dread each year. We didn't go to Skip's for lunch as my dad is too ill. I told my mom not to even mention it to him. They had me up at 3:30 a.m. to pick him up off the floor. My dad didn't remember it was my birthday. It's all right, but it's hard to see him so changed. My mom thought I turned 53 instead of 52. I still didn't get a homemade, chocolate whipped cream roll for my birthday cake. My mom has only indulged me once in 15 years. I know it was too hard to do it this year with so much time devoted to caring for my dad. But somehow, I don't know, I guess if it had been a few more times during the past 15 years, I wouldn't want it so much!

So, all in all, I'm very relieved to have it all over with for another year.

Now I start on 53. I was thinking that day one was a good Karma day. Amanda and I went out for the afternoon. She bought a new bed that will be delivered in about four weeks. It's super cool. We stopped to get non tourist priced gas on the way home. I asked for $20 regular. The woman pumping the gas was ditsy and spoke English with a heavy Portuguese accent. She looked to be in her early 20's. When I looked back at the pump it was rounding the $21.50 mark and she had wandered off to talk to some friends. I yelled back to her that I had asked for only $20 worth. She sauntered over and stopped the pump at $24.87 and asked for $20. Okay by me. Good Karma, nearly $5 of free gas! Called my folks to let them know we would be back in about a half hour.

And mom says....

"Oh thank goodness. You won't believe what I've done." (Ohhhh, no, now what?)
"I just went to get dad his pain pills, forgot what I was doing, and took them thinking they were Tylenol for me."

So much for good Karma. So short lived.
Mom's fine. A tad draggy and loopy after 30 mg. of oxycodone!

Year 53 is heralded in!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Here's what it says on the card for my dad. I think this is the best card I have ever purchased.

Dad -
The loving gifts you've given me as a father have shaped my life and made me the person I am...

Your strong sense of values, of fairness, of right and wrong are all part of me...

My outlook on life...
my sense of humor...
my interests and talents...
I can see you in them all.

It makes me happy and proud to know that the qualities in you I love and admire so much are a part of me.

You are always with me, Dad...

in my thoughts, in my heart, in the very fabric of my life...

you are always with me.

Happy Father's Day - Anonymous

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Buddies Bring Big Smiles

I just couldn't resist.

Here's Chip chowing down!

And Squirt feasting on sunflower seeds at the sunflower!

And best of all................

Here are their namesakes just waiting to meet their real life counterparts!

Readers will remember Chip's delightful arrival just after the new year. Now he's joined by his friend, Squirt. Thank you, Jayne, for both Chip and Squirt! You have brought more smiles than you will ever know.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The I Word

Uprightness, honesty, sincerity.

I don't understand how this can be so missing in today's society. Truly, how miserable have things become that a person's word is meaningless?

How often, when I have made a return phone call to a potential piano customer, have they thanked me for returning their call. Why isn't common courtesy to return a call, well, common?

I told you that there might be some disappointing news concerning our delivery job. I'll say right off the top that this post has nothing to do with the literal understanding of a contractual agreement. I am not arguing the written knowns and agreed upons. This goes far beyond that, to trusting and taking a person's word in good faith. THAT was totally my error.

Yes, we signed a contract that states that we will provide our own substitute delivery person if needed for vacation time. No argument. My disappointment and disbelief comes from verbal assurances that I was given by the "supervisor". Amanda started the job with 2 routes - approximately 45 papers/day. Shortly after we were asked if we wanted an additional route. We agreed and that added 38 more papers/day. Then about 6 months later we were asked to add an adjoining route of about 18 papers and to deliver "off route" to one person who was not happy with their current delivery person. Once again, we took on the extra work. Then I was asked to combine that last route with another small one. At that time I asked for a trial week after which time we agreed to add those extra 8 customers. At the same time, I posed the question, "What will happen when we want a vacation? We may not be able to find a substitute for this huge WALKING route (actually 5 routes)". (Presently we deliver 104 papers/6 days per week)

The supervisor's answer............."Don't worry, I'll take care of it".

And now....after over three years of service with no complaints, no missed deliveries, and on and on......she says she never said it.

I am shocked, disappointed, disgusted, in sheer disbelief.

This last month has been a disaster of non-pay customers with no support, no back up, nothing but a couple nasty phone messages (to us) from the supervisor. Only excuses and stalls. Even beyond that....she has basically accused me of lying about amounts we are owed.

Damn it, it hurts.

Her supervisor is backing her, at least on the surface, to me. He did say that they would be willing to consider any amounts that I thought we were owed! Well I should hope they would do more than consider.

Our vacation week starts on my birthday (18th) and continues through the following Saturday. The big guy supervisor would only tell me that it is up to HER whether a temporary sub is found or she gets a permanent replacement, effectively firing us. Evidently we won't be told and are to find out only when the papers are at our door on the 25th - or not.

Yet, still, something inside me keeps hoping that there is some tiny bit of integrity in her. I hate being a sucker, being duped in the name of consideration. How many times have I stepped up to "do her a favor" and now to be blatantly lied to..............
On a far happier note.........
Got this birthday card from Sue. It arrived today, only a half hour after the newspaper mess exploded. Oh my, thank you so much, Sue! And how on earth did you know about the whipped cream? When we are bad and have dessert at Ellen's or an ice cream sundae at Friendly's we always ask for PILES of extra whipped cream!

The inside says: Demand whatever you want on your birthday.

I'm taking this card to Ellen's when I order my birthday dessert! They'll love it!

Good Karma.


Jayne posed a few questions to her LiveJournal readers. Here they are, with my answers.


1. name: deb
2. birthday: June 18
3. place of residence: northeast MA
4. what makes you happy: good friends, waking up to a sunny day
5. what are you listening to now/have listened to last: in my truck-Max Morath, A Tribute to Bert Williams, in my workshop-George Gershwin, the Piano Rolls Vol. II
6. do you read my lj: Well, yeah, that's how I know about these questions!
7. if you do, what is particularly good/bad about it: good-I get to keep up with a friend's news through super writing
8. an interesting fact about you: read my complete profile
9. are you in love/have a crush at the moment: no
10. favorite place to be: white sand beach with turquoise water, air temp 85F, water temp 80F
11. favorite lyric: none
12. best time of the year: summer

1. a film: see my complete profile
2. a book: Net Crimes & Misdemeanors, of course! (would you ever forgive me if I said otherwise? It is the truth, regardless)
3. a band, a song and an album: The 5 Browns playing Rhapsody in
Blue on their latest album.

1. one thing you like about me: only one? okay, spirit (can I cheat and say tenacity as well?)
2. two things you like about yourself: honesty, fairness
3. put this in your lj so i can tell you what i think of you.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


A collection of thoughts and events of the past week.

A view of Rockport Harbor as seen from the Sandy Bay webcam on Atlantic Avenue. Rockport, where I may serve a life sentence. Or not.

I did get the keywork shipped out this past Wednesday. Another set arrives tomorrow.

I've been working on the Hardman-Duo player piano for my Marblehead customers. Going rather well and should be completed on schedule.

Dan joined me for dinner at Ellen's on Friday night. We had a good chat and joked around a lot. It's nice to get out and talk to people other than the family here.

Actually, the family doesn't really chat. Mostly they complain! Sometimes when one of us escapes to the outside world, we bring back interesting news! Hehe!

There may be a difficult situation in a couple weeks. Amanda and I are taking vacation time the week of my birthday. The newspaper doesn't like the fact that we need them to supply a substitute delivery person and has threatened that we will not have the routes after that week. I won't get into the dirty details until I see what is to happen. I probably won't know for sure until THAT Monday rolls around and I see if there are 100+ papers by the door.

Squirt the squirrel has been joined by Squeaky in eating walnuts. Scooter has also appeared but hasn't caught on to the walnut treats yet. Squirt was hilarious this morning. He found a half shell on the deck, grabbed it in his teeth, and jumped up on to a chair to sit and eat. He left the empty shell on the chair. His empty shell from last night was still on one of the loungers and Squirt got underneath the lounger, stretched as high up as he could and played with the walnut shell from underneath, bouncing it along the seat of the lounge.

We also have three chipmunks. Chip, Stubby, and Peabrain. Dale didn't return this year. Chip is the smart one. He's your typical picture postcard chipmunk. Stubby has a tail that is only a couple inches long (thus his name). Peabrain is very teeny and very dumb. He'll run right by a pile of sunflower seeds to grab single ones here and there on the deck.

Went to check out a piano at the Gloucester Stage Company. They need it tuned and weren't sure about it's dubious condition. My, my, it DOES need help. I'll go to tune it and try to fix what I can on Monday. I'm going to take the camera so be ready for a picture report.

Massachusetts has a new law beginning on July 1st. ALL residents must have health insurance or be severely penalized on their income taxes. I haven't been able to afford insurance since I move here. I had health insurance in FL. So, as required, I filled out the necessary forms for the state. Something rubbed me the wrong way....questions.....
What is your preferred spoken language? What is your preferred written language?
I say if you don't answer English you should pay a stiff fine.

But don't get me going on that one.

I filled out the forms for Amanda's insurance. Her work has decided to offer insurance to part time employees. I hope it doesn't end up costing more than she earns!

Oh yeah, back to the newspaper. Seems they cannot remember to pay us what they owe for canceled customers nor for samples we were required to deliver. They are getting a call tomorrow.

Made a big change on Friday. I took the soft cover off of my truck bed for the summer. I usually just leave it on in case of rain combined with the necessity to haul piano parts. Now, since one of us must stay home with dad, if I'm out on a job I could use the folk's minivan if I need covered hauling space.

The tourists are back. Traffic, stupid driving moves, stopping where there is NO stop sign, speeding through intersections where there are stop signs, parking nightmares! There are only three roads in to Rockport. I think we should put gates at them. Close town periodically so that the residents can enjoy a nice day! Or...."sorry, town's full, go home".

I wasted a pile of time the other night looking at Cape Ann using the satellite feature of Google. I need to do some serious exploring on foot.

Tomorrow I'll start the birthday countdown. All gifts will be accepted (sly grin). Hey LK are we still going out for lunch mid-birthday's? I'll meet you at the 750 mile mark!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Downhill Disgust

I wish I could blame recent events on a full moon. Naw, that was last Friday. At least that's what the lady at my local Mailboxes, Etc. told me.

Backtracking momentarily...I will consider the previous post resolved. I have heard nothing more. I am not so naive that more is out of the question. However, I decided to take the high and the safe road and keep my mouth (fingers) quiet. The letter is on file - just in case - but no more on that.

Merrily along I go.......

Recent bumper sticker: Work Harder....millions on welfare are depending on you.

And...we deliver newspapers to the government subsidized housing neighborhood. I am not making a blanket judgment. Some nice people live there. Some people who truly need the extra help. I have no problem with those. However....if they can't (won't) pay for a newspaper, why do they feel they are entitled to receive one? I have three customers that flat out ignore payment. The newspaper will not cancel them unless they owe an enormous amount, yet I still must deliver and try to collect. Yesterday, "the gang" were all out "playing" in the driveway. Amanda was with me and held the paper out the truck window so that someone could get it from her. No one budged. I told Amanda to drop it where we were and I politely reminded the d!#! customer that he owed for three weeks of papers.


He laughed at me.

Not to mention the bigger issue. If you are so poor that you have asked the government to pay for at least part of your expenses, why are you spending money on a newspaper? (and add to that, new car, battery powered car for your toddler, every toy imaginable left out in all weather imaginable, drugs, cigarettes, beer). More than I have...I've obviously missed out. I'm living wrong.

I wouldn't have the nerve.


Yesterday my mom had a doctor's appointment (1:15). Routine visit. She told me that she was going to stop at the store for a couple things on her way home if she had the time. I reminded her that I was driving Amanda to work for 3 p.m. Well, the time arrived to leave with Amanda and still no mom. I don't like leaving my dad alone for too long as he can barely manage walking to and from the bath, etc. With no choice, I told dad that I would be right back and headed out. As we were driving to Amanda's job, I noticed that I was very low on gas. I made a quick check of my wallet to find only $15.00. Oh well, it would have to do. On the trip back home I stopped at the local, overpriced, tourist trap gas station to find that he was all out of regular. Only had premium and believe me, it's a premium price as well! This meant heading back to Gloucester for gas. But, as far as I knew, dad was still alone at home. Also at home was a set of keys to get working on, the player piano to work on, Amanda's health insurance paperwork and mine as well. Yikes. Better run home and get gas later.

Mom was home. And she'd stopped at the store. She says the doctor was running late. I asked why, then, had she stopped at the store afterwards? "If I didn't I'd have had to go back later", she says. "But mom, now I have to! And I've got piles of work that has to get done."

"Better you than me" was her response.

Thanks mom.

I need a really super, spectacular, nifty, joyous, big grin inspiring event.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Opinions Please

I received a rather accusatory telephone call from a piano technician. I do not wish to divulge names. I feel that verbal contact with this tech would become confrontational and I just don't do confrontational. I have composed a written response to his phone call. Please note that I had already left a message for him that I was not willing to do the job. I was polite...evidently not firm enough. Yes, this is familiar to some. Anyway, I wanted to be sure that I was concise, polite, and quite clear as to my position.

The rough draft of the letter follows and is pretty self-explanatory.

I'm not good at this so.......

PLEASE comment!

This note is in response to your phone call today.

During the past several years, I have made a point of providing quality work at reasonable costs to both you and to your dad. On many occasions I have put aside other customer's work to accommodate your requests for rush jobs. While your dad was ill, I covered any tunings that you requested, always reminding his customers that I was only a temporary replacement. I have also, whenever possible, attempted to comply when either you or your dad have requested discounted fees.

Balancing time in self-employment, particularly in a service related industry, is extremely important to success of the business and to customer satisfaction. In my efforts to provide this service I have in many instances endured your missed appointments for delivery or pick up of work. At some times this has caused considerable wasted time, effort, and travel on my part, as well as delaying the scheduling of other customers.

As I have discussed with you many times over the last few years, I never recommend speculating in the buying, rebuilding, and resale of player pianos. Despite my advice you have chosen to do so. The Wxxxx DA was completed in April 2004. It remained in relative storage in your shop for approximately three years before you arranged sale of the instrument. As in most anything mechanical, lack of use can be detrimental to optimal subsequent performance. One week prior to delivery of the Wxxxx you called asking for my assistance in delivery prep work. As I explained to you, neither my work schedule nor my personal schedule allowed for that addition.

In the Fall of 2004 you asked that I rebuild the Txxxxx player system for a Sxxxxxx upright that was intended to be your personal instrument. With that consideration, I offered the job at a price lower than I would bid to the general public. In good faith, I began the component rebuild before receiving the customary one-third deposit. Several months later, in December 2004, you paid one-half the deposit. In March 2005 you paid the other half of the deposit. The component rebuild was completed, including bench testing, one month later and you were notified. At that time you did not have the funds to finish. After storing the working components for several months they were returned to you with the understanding that there would be no further obligations. The components have now been stored for over two years, the vast majority of that time being in your workshop.

Without consideration of my schedule, or consideration of the disuse and possible disabling effects of parts storage, you chose to sell the Sxxxxx Txxxxx. A more reasonable course of action may have been to complete the instrument before taking a deposit on its sale. Considering the extended storage of the components, the apparent disregard for my business and scheduling, and the possible additional labor that could ensue due to substantial time lapse, I cannot consider this job. All components were in working order when returned to you and I chose to accept the one-third deposit as minimally sufficient to cover 300 hours of labor. In addition to the labor involved I had an investment in materials which I chose to overlook and have not entertained requesting any additional fees to cover those costs.

You and your father have told me that you have rebuilt at least one player piano approximately 7 years ago. With that knowledge, and with the completed components and drawings that were returned to your shop, you should be able to reinstall the player system.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tuning Godzilla

Yep, folks, the monster piano. This piano is located at The Studio restaurant, Rocky Neck, Gloucester. As I recall the building used to be owned by the artist, Emile Gruppe. My memory could be wrong though. So here's a picture of the monster Chickering grand piano. It has been converted to a "piano bar". Thus the red, padded elbow rest surrounding the lid. An attempt has been made to paint the piano to look like an artist's palette. All the tables in the area around the piano are painted the same way. And in the same manner......poorly......with a large brush......gobs of paint.....that, on the piano, are chipping off. Now, it's never a good idea to mix a piano with drinks. Inevitably many drinks find their way through the hinge on the lid to the steel strings and wool felt dampers directly below. Just think what a year's worth of rum and cokes will do to steel piano wire under a great deal of tension. Then add to that the fact that I can not raise the lid on this monster unless I remove the entire elbow rest. Then add to that there is no lid prop stick so one must improvise with stainless ice buckets wedged in place! Why, oh why, do I continue to service this monster?

Because, it's old and so weird.

So, Friday is the tuning. They only called on Wednesday. It had just dawned on them that they were opening for the season Friday night. I got to Rocky Neck and the usual parking mess. I've often thought it might be nice of the restaurant to set aside an employee spot for me for the time I'm there. Hah! I drive along the narrow street looking for a close-by spot. No luck. Here's where I ended up (literally the end) parking. Gloucester Marine Railways. Where the big sign says: "Not responsible for vehicles damaged by paint overspray". Great. No painting seemed to be going on and I parked between two other trucks - just in case - less chance of total coverage at least. I hauled myself and my weighty tuning kit to the restaurant. It had been one year since the piano had been tuned. Remarkably and thankfully - not too bad. Up to pitch with just a few unisons out. I try very hard not to move any strings by much. Remember the rum and cokes? Heaven forbid any let loose with a loud snap. Already there were 4 broken just from use over last summer. Thankfully no place vital and within the area of 3 strings per note, all notes still made sound! While I was just getting started the manager walked by. "This key sticks down. I hope you can fix it." Oh yeah, sure, why not try to pry this beast open? Working with unidentified sticky substances adhering to my hands, I got enough of the case freed up and apart to get to the workings. The action would not budge out of the piano. Oh yuck. With liquid lube in hand, I aimed and squirted. Yay! I hit the right spot and the hammer returned to position (repeatedly) and thus the "key" unstuck. Phew!

Poor old abused Godzilla. An 1896 Chickering that deserves so much better than it's present existence.

Done for another year. I'll be called back again next May, I'm sure. Back to my truck and a quick photo as I left the marine railways. And I survived without getting an unwanted paint job! And finally, I drive out of Rocky Neck past The Studio. It's the brown building with the blue awnings.