At the hospital where I work there's an atrium with a skylight, and that's where the piano sits, right by the coffee shop, in the sunlight. It's mostly volunteers who play it, older gray haired men and women who come with worn books of sheet music. But sometimes it's a short black guy in an Environmental Services uniform, who I guess is on break, and he sits at that piano with no music to follow and he tears that shit up. It's always a lively jazzy song that I've never heard before.
This is in sharp contrast to the people who usually play, and I'm not trying to snub them, I mean they are there to perform and add music to what is usually a frustrating day at a place where no one wants to be. But really, when people are passing by on their way to chemo treatment, is it necessary to play the theme from "Love Story?" You know, that movie where the woman dies of cancer at the end? Or imagine that you're 75 years old and your son has brought you to have blood drawn for the 50th time that week for some test that will conclude that you're old and you're dying, and the piano pipes up with "Sunrise, Sunset?"
Or worse, and I swear this is the worst, "Send in the Clowns." I don't care what visit I'm there for, I mean, it could be a well-visit, where by definition I am there for my annual confirmation that I am doing well, and if I walk past someone playing "Send in The Clowns" I guarantee that I will be diagnosed with heart failure. They don't even play it well, and for some reason that makes it EVEN WORSE. They miss notes and the song hobbles along, as if its suffering from clinical depression.
What is not as bad but spooky, is when no one is there, and the piano plays by itself. The keys go up and down as if someone's working them, but no one's there and all of us walk past this situation as if it's normal. I want to stop, point, and say, "Is this freaking anyone else out? Can we unplug this?" Maybe I'm crazy, but I always get the impression that the piano is lonely and it's pretending someone's there. "I'm ok, I just have to stay focused," it tells itself. "I'll play 'If I Die Young' until Margaret gets back."
The piano needs Prozac. And since we can't stuff pills under its lid the best solution I can come up with is to hire the guy from Environmental Services full time. Something tells me that even his jazzy songs about death won't be depressing. He can play by the coffee shop, bathed in sunlight, and people who are there for hip replacements will start to Second Line. And I will grab a white napkin, wave it over my head and join them. Maybe I could be hired to do it full time! Ok, I need to find this guy and get our plan going. We'll form a duo , call ourselves "Send in the Clowns My Ass," and we'll be a smashing success.