Day 2 was really the true kick-off of the Great Piano Adventure. It was the day we picked up the rental truck, the day we picked up the piano itself, and the day we started our long and perilous drive.
We had a ton of time to kill on Day 2.
Oh wait... I can't believe I haven't mentioned this already...
I planned the route to do accomplish a couple of things. First, I wanted to see as many places that I'd never been as possible. Second, I chose our particularly out-of-the-way route in order to see the California Redwoods (more on that on Day 4). Third, I'd heard of people going on road trips and going to restaurants featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and that sounded like a ton of fun, so after the route was planned, I looked for places we could stop.
Okay... back to Day 2.
So, we had all this time to kill, and we were looking for a place close to the hotel to eat breakfast, so we found our way to The Mecca Cafe. The Mecca Cafe hasn't been featured on any television shows, and I'd never heard of it before we walked in, but let me tell you.. One of the best breakfasts I've ever had. The food wasn't overly fancy. Even the TM's Salmon Eggs Benedict wasn't too frilly. I mean... it was served with about a zillion pounds of hash browns... not exactly snooty, but it was fucking delicious. I had some pancakes (well... I ordered some pancakes, and I hate only 1. It was HUGE!) and some thick cut bacon. Let me just say... yum.
We both feel like The Mecca Cafe deserves to be submitted to Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The place is absolutely tiny, and I know that it's often easy to assign the lable "charming" or "full of character" to these tiny little restaurants with quirky wait-staffs and whatnot, but in this case, it's totally try. I wouldn't call it without its grit, either, and that grit lends an authenticity that some of the other "Dives" we'd try seem to try to cultivate instead of just cultivating it over time. It's one of those places I would go back to in a heartbeat. It was awesome.
After eating and checking out of the hotel, we got a cab to the truck rental, and we finally laid eyes on our truck. Or you know.. so we thought. The guy was all "Here's the truck" and we're all "Where's the ramp? What about those wheel-wells? Will a piano fit?" and he's all "No Ramp, no fucking way will a piano fit..." (imagine this in a South African accent).
This was troubling since getting the piano into the truck was the whole point of the trip. The dude must have sensed our distress, because he gave us the ol' comp upgrade. To a larger truck. With a ramp. Let me just say that the first truck was daunting enough, and was barely larger than a pick-up. The new truck was almost a joke, it was so big. He had to remind us that the cab was 11 feet high. There are no pictures of the truck currently available, but here's a link.
After some errands we headed into Olympia, the capital of Washington, and spent a couple of hours walking around the state capitol, which was really incredible. I've seen some state capitols over the years, and this one is by far the most ornate and grand. It was really pretty. Even in the rain.
Okay... that's out of the way. Now it's time to talk about the most amazing person. Ever.
When we were waiting to meet the piano movers, they called us. I answered and talked to a gentleman who sounded old and a little confused. After I hung up the phone, I commented to the TM that I hoped the old man I spoke with was sending someone who wasn't liable to crumble into a pile of dust any moment.
And yet, who showed up? Just two men whose combined age had to be close to 125 years old. The old man and his one, middle-aged assitant/son or something. I was busy readying the truck and just glimpsed the old man as he slowly passed the truck, with the assistant guiding him and I had to stop and let that register. The old man was being guided physically. That didn't seem like a good sign.
I jumped down off the truck, and went to meet the movers. It was at this point that we realized there was another something a little off about the old man. He shook our hands, but didn't look at us. Then he started sort of feeling around with his hands and feet.
What's when we figured it out.
The dude was 100% blind. I'm not talking "has blurred vision." I'm not talking "Needs big, thick glasses and forgot them." I'm talking CAN NOT SEE A THING totally fucking blind.
And then he starts wandering around, feeling the piano. Feeling the truck. Feeling the ramp with his feet. His assistant would only occasionally call out "a little to the left, John" and things like that. The old guy was zipping around, feeling for everything, chatting it up, making jokes (I don't pay for anything I can't see!") .
After a few minutes of feeling things out, these 2 men simply tipped the 900 pound piano (literally) onto a dolly. It was at this point where the TM nearly passed out. She was absolutely terrified this ancient blind man would be crushed under the weight of this giant piano. She was right to be nervous. The guy was half the size and twice the age of his assistant, but seemed to be shouldering a lot of the physical burden.
If you're wondering if I video-taped this. I did. When I have the chance to sort and edit, I'll post the clip.
Watching the old blind man pushing a huge piano up a truck ramp, being verbally guided by his assistant was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. This man should have a television special. This man should have a statue. This man is so awesome he's inspired me to created a new rhetorical question...
When someone asks you a question for which the answer is "YES", instead of wheeling out the old "Does a whore sweat in church?" you should totally go for "Can an old blind man move a piano?".
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. We met the TM's old friend from her college days at a Starbucks inside an Albertsons grocery store for a quick latte, and then made the 70 mile drive South to the TM's home town of Longview, Washington. It was there that we started a lovely visit with the TM's sister "Buddy" and her husband and kids. They are really excellent people. I'd never met them before, and they were incredibly welcoming and friendly.
I'll talk more about them in the Day 3 blog, since we spent more time hanging out then, but I can definitely say it was cool to see the TM in her natural habitat. It was a lot of fun watching her hang out with her sister.
Still... more than anything, I'll remember this day as the day I witnessed a creaky old blind man muscle a piano into the back of a moving truck like it was just a leisurely walk along the lake.
Was I amazed?
Can an old blind man move a piano?
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