Pianos for Sale: Adventures of Adult Piano Lessons (2 of 3)

Buying and maintaining a piano
Photo by Frank Schramm.

After six months of trying to sell my Yamaha piano on Craig’s List, I received an email that grabbed my attention:

Hi
Can offer $2700. cash & carry.  Thanks Jim.

Craig’s List advises the seller to beware of cashier’s checks, money orders, and escrow shipping, but Jim was offering cash, only $300 less than my asking price.  I dialed his cell phone number.  “You let me know when you want me to come. I take the piano, give you the cash.” He clicked his tongue to signify the rapidity of the transaction.

I had decided to sell my upright so I could upgrade to a grand piano, yet I dreaded the idea of parting with my beloved piano.  Rather than facing my ambivalence, my mind kindly provided me a distracting scenario: what if Jim’s cash was counterfeit?  I was not naïve, not born yesterday, I huffed to myself.  “You’re going to have to walk to the bank with my husband,” I told Jim in what I hoped was an authoritative voice. “I want to the bank to certify that the cash is legitimate.”

Jim agreed, but then an argument ensued about the precise moment that he would hand over the cash. He could not, he pointed out, give me the money too soon. For a moment, I imagined grabbing the envelope stuffed with hundred dollar bills, then slamming my front door in his face, refusing to part with my upright piano.

“Do you have a website or a business address, where I can check your credentials?” I asked.

“Why do I need a website? I pick up the piano from you, then I sell it.”

After we hung up, I looked at the crowded vista of my home office. Crammed in along with my treasured Yamaha piano, were the Boston grand piano I was renting, my desk, my computer, and three very large houseplants. Having someone clear away the upright at such a decent price should be most welcome.  In theory, that was.

I emailed Jim that I wanted $150 added to his offer. I stipulated that once the bank certified his cash, he would need to place it in a sealed envelope, then hand my husband the envelope with the seal unbroken as the piano was being loaded into the truck. Jim agreed.

As Saturday, the sale day approached, I tried not to consider that I would never see my upright piano again.  My Yamaha U1 Professional symbolized my return, as an adult, to the classical piano music of my teenaged years.  It was on this instrument that I had learned, once again, how to play a piano.  My four years of adult piano lessons had sparked such a positive change of life: my taking responsibility for what I wanted.

I could not help feeling miffed that Jim had no interest in seeing the piano before he bought it.  He was unaware of my upright’s selling points, such as how I had kept the Yamaha free of dust, replacing the maroon felt runner over the keys, then gently closing the fallboard, after I practiced every night.  Rather than confront the fact that to Jim my piano was simply a large piece of shellacked black wood, with iron plate, strings, and tuning pins inside, I allowed ridiculous suspicions to teem inside of me.

Read the rest of the Pianos for Sale: Adventures of Adult Piano Lessons series:

Pianos for Sale, Part 1

Pianos for Sale, Part 3

The book that I recently purchased on managing anxiety counsels that “What if” questions rarely prove to be useful.  Yet I could not help plaguing myself.  What if Jim was not truly interested in buying my upright? What if he used piano purchases as a pretext for forcing entry into unsuspecting sellers’ homes, then robbed them blind of three computers, one ten-year-old television, an analog video camera, and a pocket digital camera (the extent of our stuff)?

The fact that I already had protection of sorts, in the form of my son’s armory of Nerf guns, did not occur to me until later…

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