You’re much too much and just too very very

In an April post, I told you about Shirley, a listener who calls me “piano lady.” It is not a term of endearment. She doesn’t care for the music I play, and she doesn’t mind telling me so. Her first words to me were “Shut up,” and things have gone downhill from there.

The second time I visited her assisted living center, I requested that Shirley be seated for lunch at a table far from the piano, because I found her comments distracting (and demoralizing, I have to admit). The staff complied. The third visit, Shirley objected to the new seating arrangement; she insisted on returning to her regular table, right next to me. I braced myself.

“Knock it off” was Shirley’s first demand. I didn’t, so she tried again. “That’s enough of that lousy music.”

I continued playing, only to hear a few minutes later: “Why don’t you learn something modern? Like jazz.” That one surprised me.

Then, “Hey, piano lady, how long are you gonna play?” I told her until 1 o’clock. “Oh my God, we have to listen to you for a whole hour?”

I don’t know why Shirley harasses me. Maybe it’s her way of getting attention. After all, people say that negative attention is better than no attention. However, they’re usually referring to children when they say it.

Shirley is an extreme example, though I’ve had a few other similar types among my listeners. But for each disgruntled one, there are dozens of others who enjoy the music. They sing, they dance. They go out of their way to stop by the piano with a compliment, like this one from yesterday:

“You have no idea how much sunshine you brought into this room with your music. We were all dancing in our hearts.”

For a volunteer pianist, it doesn’t get better than that.

Copyright © 2015 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to You’re much too much and just too very very

  1. Roger Wise says:

    It seems that if people like Shirley (and Agnes, whom you referred to in one of your previous blogs) didn’t have anything to complain about, they’d complain that they didn’t have anything to complain about. It’s like they enjoy complaining about things and I’m sure it’s not just the music. Although they have the option of taking their lunch to their room, they choose to sit next to you so you’re obviously providing for some need known only to them. Whatever their problem, these consummate crabs are thankfully quite rare and you can take heart in knowing that everyone else enjoys your music and appreciates the joy you bring into their lives.

    I’d never do it but I’d really be tempted to ask Shirley what her least favorite tune in the whole world was. Then, the next time I came back, I’d play it for her. Boy, would that ever give her something to complain about.

    • I did try the opposite approach with Agnes once, asking if she had a favorite song, thinking I could win her over. Her response was only a grunt and a scowl. I never considered taking the opposite approach, playing a hated song as a kind of revenge — I wish I had the nerve to do that!

  2. June ritchie says:

    I guess it must be human nature to always remember the negative. After all these years of doing hair I still beat my self up over the one unhappy client and some how forget the other 20 I pleased,

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