Remember how I said that I rarely would get angry? Like actually full-on angry?
Well, this is cutting it close.
So, if you don’t know, I’ve played a little bit of piano when I was younger. And by a little bit, I mean a lot. I remembered always dreaming about a time in the future when the “portable piano” would be invented. Keyboards really, in my opinion, don’t count. I mean, who wants to lug that thing around? Unless if, of course, a job requires it…
Anyway, I remember when, sometime in my past, I was at some store with my mother. I looked around, and the first thing I see is this apparent piano sale going on. Naturally, what would a child do when he sees a piano?
Press down on the keys.
So I, age of 16, walked over to a piano and started to play a bit. Eventually, I started to get in the groove.
Right in front of me, the salesman was kissing up to this one guy playing on another piano by trying to demonstrate his own knowledge of piano.
Even better: the customer was showing off. He was using both the attention the salesman gave to him and his playing of modern songs to attract customers.
What. The. Cheezits.
After playing for a while, the salesman looks up, sees this strange kid (me) playing on a piano in front of him, and says, “Wait a bit, okay? I’ve got to demonstrate this piano to this person.”
Clearly, he was doing more than that. It didn’t even look like he even wanted to sell the things. More like he was showing off in order to create some attraction.
So I walk away, dejected and defeated to my mother, who was getting other things. Summoning up my courage, I walked back again to those pianos and started to play again.
These girls were next to me, playing on this other piano. The salesman was now kissing THEIR behinds. They were playing Pachelbel Canon in D, but in a slightly different style. He goes, “Oh, that’s Pachelbel in D, with a slight twist on it. Nice!” The girls ignored him, but he bulled on anyway. “First one to play the chords of this movie theme song,” he said, “gets bonus points from me.” As if he had the authority to hand out any points at all.
So, to bug him a little, I start playing those chords while the girls were struggling next to me. How? I have perfect pitch, a rare ability to have, according to my band teacher in seventh grade. I can easily name any note any instrument plays, given that it’s in tune. Strange, huh? That’s still pretty cool. Not bragging about it either, but it has been useful on several occasions in which I had to play by ear or sightread.
The salesman turns around, sees me, and goes, “You’re under eighteen, right?” I nod yes. “You do know that there is a sign there that says, ‘No children under eighteen permitted to play on the pianos unless if accompanied by their parents,’ right? Where’s your parents?” I pointed to my mom, standing in front of some things, but the salesman shook his head. “They’ve got to be here with you.” He told me that I had to leave.
That was the last straw. I had seen other kids, five year olds, messing around on the pianos. Yet he didn’t trust a sixteen year old that was apparently ruining his sales pitch. Not to mention the fact that the girls next to me were under eighteen as well, their parents having a few minutes ago. That was just another way of saying that the salesman wanted to sell and make money and create an attraction, rather than letting people try out their creativity and find their inspiration. And, let’s be honest, my mom isn’t that really far away from me if she’s standing only ten feet away from me.
I went to my mother, helped her finish shopping, and waited in line with her. After we paid for our things, I turned around to my mother and said, “Mom, we’ve got to go back.”
She agreed, and I thank my mother to this day for that. We went back to the pianos, and, this time, with her standing next to me, I started to play.
The salesman, as I had expected, came around to me. While I was playing, he had the audacity to tap me on the shoulder. I looked behind me, and he was standing there, cocky smile, thumb jerking back signaling for me to go.
That was when I had my internal laugh. When I was sixteen, I was taller than my mom by about half a foot. He must have thought that the person standing beside me was some other girl or customer. That was, however, also offensive to me and my mother. He had just unknowingly insulted my mom’s height.
No one insults Mother and gets away with a couple of laughs.
Anyway, while he was standing there, my mother was standing beside me, asking me what was wrong.
I stared directly at the guys face, smiled, and pointed to her.
He instantaneously crumpled into a phony smile, although I could sense his defeat underneath. “Just making sure, okay?” he said in this voice of false cheerfulness. He turned around once more, but not before asking us, “Hey, do you have any old pianos? I’ll talk to you after I talk to these people…”
By the time he turned back from those other customers, my mother and I were gone. We had to go.
Third time’s the charm.
So why did I bring up this story of my past? No particular reason. I was just staring at my piano one day when it suddenly appeared in my mind.
The salesman, by preventing the natural flow of creativity that comes along with an instrument, was harming his own business. Even though there were many adults there playing the pianos, no children really stayed there. That’s where he got it wrong. In order for creativity to flow in people’s lives, you’ve got to start young. Encourage the young to do something meaningful with their lives and don’t impose unneeded restrictions on them. That just breeds jealousy and a life of, well, non-creativity.
It just shows that salesmen are as annoying as people say. I was a fool when I believed that salesmen deserved a second chance. Now I know for a fact that salesmen like those just want to make money and don’t care for their customers.
What a shame. I thought that the customer was always right.
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