Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Dateline:  Healdsburg (CA) dump:  My daughter’s old upright freezer died and I was charged with getting rid of the thing.  With a little research, I find that Sonoma County landfills will recycle old major appliances charging twenty bucks per item if the unit has Freon in it.  All others are free.
So I truck it on over to the landfill.  The host waves me through without weighing my vehicle, telling me to see the fellows over in recycle.  “Take a left at the top of the hill.”
Recycle is a rich milieu of using building materials, windows, doors, toilets and such along with glass, aluminum and cardboard.  Not immediately seeing appliances in the mix, I pull in looking for someone official willing to take my twenty and give me some direction.
I don’t see anybody.  What I do see, however, amid barbecues and dressers and old couches, is a derelict spinet piano, some off brand, standing abandoned and alone, like Bogey at that train station in Paris. (My brother, who moves pianos for a living, says more and more frequently he is taking them to the dump because they are too old to tune and there is no market for them.)  Since everything in life relates in one way or another to a scene from Casablanca, I walk over to the instrument and begin to tickle out a few bars of “As Time Goes By.”
Another customer comes up to me, thinking I must work at the place and asks me where he should drop off his old RCA Victor TV.  “I don’t know,” I respond, “I was going to ask you where to put my freezer.”  I turn back to the keyboard and pick up where I’d left off:  Moonlight and love songs…

This incident got me thinking.  What if, on Saturdays, someone pulled a six-hour shift – say, ten to four – at the dump attending to an old junker piano.  He or she could play standards and take requests, perhaps placing a big glass brandy snifter on top of the thing for tips. 
Thirty years ago, my old buddy Tom and I used to trek out to the Jamestown landfill with our household garbage about once a month.  We’d look at what folks had discarded and comment on what a cultural experience it was.
A piano man would only make a trip to the dump more so.
Where are you Billy Joel?

© 2015
Church of the Open Road Press

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