“$165 to tune a piano!” the pleasant voice over the phoned said as though that was pocket money for a Tuesday. Since I can remember when it cost $45, this price seemed high. After determining the availability of this piano tuner (if worst came to worst), I called a second one. “It would cost between $150 – $175 to tune your piano Mr. Kaynor. It has not been tuned in the last decade, so it may require the equivalent of two tunings.” I was getting an education.
When I asked about his schedule, he spoke of possibility of an appointment three or four weeks out. It was Christmas time and we wanted it tuned for singing around the piano. My wife and our daughter-in-law both play.
This second guy at $150 – $175 was not much better than the first guy’s $165 and it might be slightly higher. I thanked him and moved on.
The third guy said, “For your piano – a console – having gone so long since the last tuning – I quote it high so you get over sticker shock up front. It may cost as much as $300. It will take about two hours.”
Since he lived about 55 miles away, but was actually in the area when my phone call reached him – he pulled off the road to speak with me and make notes – he could come that very afternoon at 3:30.
I gulped. Swallowed hard, and bit the bullet. “Okay, please come and tune our piano today.”
At 3:30 the door bell range. He came into our home – a 30-year-old, tall, Scandinavian appearance, all business and thoroughly professional — and was tuning by 3:34 P.M.
Meanwhile I am hoping it will not take the full two hours, which I trusted would translate into something less than $300. He tuned away. 3:34 become 4:20, 4:20 fades into 5:10. I was thinking, “3:30 – 5:10 is one hour and forty minutes, so at $150 per hour I already owe this man about $235. Maybe he is done and the meter has stopped running.”
But, no, he is not done. Hope of saving a few dollars evaporates – he is going to take the full two hours so I can kiss off $300!
I get out my checkbook, and sit there – wanting to get the painful part over with – as he packs his tools and re-assembles the piano.
He hands me a bill. It is for $165! With relish I write in the figures and tear it out of the bank of checks and hand it to him.
I feel smart. I feel he has treated me graciously. I am happy. Whereas I thought $165 was high earlier in the day, now I am pleased it only cost $165. It is a matter of perspective.