(No, this is not about the Harvey Keitel movie.)
I found a Craiglist ad for a piano the other day, for $80, and it looked decent, so I immediately sent the guy an email. He wrote back almost instantly, and we arranged to meet on Saturday.
Greg, Dan, and I drove to his house, saw the piano, liked it, and agreed we would come pick it up tomorrow. He had offered delivery in his post, which was fantastic, and saved us from renting a U-Haul. We joked that the only commitment we had on Sunday was watching the Superbowl, and that we’d come over at about 2. We all laughed, thinking we’d be home by 3.
Sunday, we arrived, and started trying to move the piano. It lived in the front corner of their living room, less than four feet from the front door, and the guy had backed his truck right up to the brick steps, so all we had to do was move the piano four feet and slide it directly into his truck bed. He assured us that this was how the piano had come into the house, so it would be no problem.
His front entry had two doors, diagonally opposite each other, sort of like a converted little front porch thing. We got the piano out of its corner, carefully trying to avoid scratching the antique wooden floors, and suddenly were stopped by the hinges of the first door. We wiggled and jiggled the piano, hoping to get it through, and finally decided we had to take that door off its hinges. So the guy got Greg a screwdriver, Greg knocked out the hinge pins, and the door rested in a corner.
We got a few inches further forward, when this guy suddenly remembered that the front door had been replaced since they brought the piano into the house. Sure enough, once we had cleared most of the first doorway, there was no way to move the piano further forward through the second doorway – it was wedged in tight. So we took the outer door off its hinges, hoping that would give us the clearance we needed.
Unfortunately, we were still about an inch and a half short. So he suggested we take the trim off the first doorway, which would definitely give us the extra inch and a half we needed. In came the crow bar, and he pried the trim off the wall, leaving bare exposed studs visible. We took a deep breath, shifted the piano again, and stopped – we were two millimetres short. That was it – there was no way the piano was coming out this door.
So we stopped to regroup, and considered whether it could go out either of the two back doors. The door off the kitchen involved an even tighter turn than the front door, so we immediately ruled that out. The door off the back of the living room should work, but there was no way to get the truck back there. We would have to take the piano down about five brick stairs.
Out came the wooden ramps, the couch (with the guy’s twelve year old son still on it) was moved to the other side of the living room, and we shifted the piano to the back of the house. The door back here had to come off its hinges too, and the little office had to be completely rearranged. A neighbor showed up just in time to help us brace the piano as it slid precariously down the 2×4 ramps, almost pitching off sideways as it went.
We wheeled the piano around to the back of the house, where the guy had parked his truck down the driveway incline that went under the house, so that the bed was almost level with the ground. We shoved the piano up the 2×4 ramps and into the bed of the truck, cursing the last remaining ice pile as we went. He got into the truck and tried to back it up the ramp, but kept slipping on the ice, so we chipped away the last of the ice and the piano and truck finally made it up the ramp.
He said he’d follow us to our house, and I begged him to let us help him put his house back together. He laughed it off, saying he’d take care of it later. He followed us to our house, and backed the truck up in our side yard so that the bed of the truck was nearly in our kitchen. The piano slid into the kitchen beautifully, with none of the hassles we had endured at his house.
So we now have a piano, it’s incredibly out of tune (no wonder, given what we put it through), and we paid the guy more than he had asked for. Apparently, the only piano tuner in town who will come tune pianos at home (as opposed to school or university pianos) is a blind man, who arrives in a cab.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would we do it again? Definitely not.