Today in Osaka I had asked for a piano tuner to come onboard and tune the 5 grand pianos. They sent me three piano tuners. Do you really need three? The front desk asked me. It makes no difference to me, I said. Does it make a difference to you? They were already on the list anyways, they replied. They will arrive at 9am.
I was pretty sure they would be punctual, since they are Japanese. I wondered if they would show up in a giant piano tuning squad. ! wasn’t disappointed. They showed up in a cluster at 5 past 9. They didn’t speak a lick of english. What I would do without my year of Japanese in school, I have no idea. Japanese immigration was going on at the same time. People were lining up for fingerprints and temperature checks. The entire population of 800 high paying guests, that is, The crew already did theirs. We just had to fill in a survey, The survey asked me: Did you contuct with poultry, live or dead, within the past 7 days?
Hmmm. The answer would be no, and no. And I didn’t conduct with it, either.
The band is confused. They start to protest. “What about that fried chicken in the mess the other…. ” “NO!” I told them, just write NO for everything..
So meanwhile, the immigration is taking forever, and the guests are ticked off and standing in a big lineup that seems to loop through the ship. What the heck, I think, throwing one tuner in the lounge with the lineup. Pling, Pling, he starts to tune. I lead the other tuner wearing the face mask to the white Steinway. He looks like a surgeon with that briefcase. When all the tuners are dispersed I go to check on the guy tuning during the Immigration . I knew it was a bad time, but I was desperate. It is hell to find a decent tuner in Asia, and I knew Osaka was my best bet. The guy in Hong Kong is forever banned. The room would be occupied for the rest of the day with rehearsals and this was my only shot at a tuning before Dubai. Besides myself and some big name broadway people, some very top classical artists are due to perform on that piano, and it would be horrible to have it so out of tune.
As I go back into the show room a lady complains. What is that piano man doing? She asks. Tuning, I reply. Well make it stop, she demands. Certainly Ma’am , I agree with her. Like hell I am going to make it stop. The tuning is music to my ears. It it amazing how the least musical of people all of a sudden get sensitive when a piano tuner is involved. “She is probably the same lady who complains that my piano is out of tune,” noted the cocktail pianist.
Needless to say, an hour and a half into it, the guests in the immigration lineup started a near riot, and the tuning had to be canned. At least it’s better than nothing.