There were many interesting people who came into the Christian bookstore where I worked. I tried to be kind to everyone and found myself pulling stories out of them.
Sometimes someone came in crying. “My husband just committed adultery. I don’t want to get a divorce. Is there a book that can help me?”
Or someone came in searching. I loved helping them find their very first Bible. And there was always visitors from out of town that had interesting stories.
I’ll never forget the day after Valentine’s day when a famous basketball coach came in looking for a card for his wife—a day late!
“I’m sorry,” I said, “The lady employees put those cards up right after the 14th.” Perhaps they did that because they knew that no man EVER would buy a Valentine’s Day card after Valentine’s day.
He found a generic card, paid for it in cash, and rushed out.
As usual, some of the most memorable people were the ones that were unusual. One homeless man used to come in and ask to play the piano. He played very loud and I had to ask him to stop playing as I was afraid that he would break the instrument. I remember one day he came in dressed only in a dirty white t-shirt one size too small and white cut off sweat pants. He had flip-flops on his white sock feet. He told me that the place he was staying finally put in a toilet. He was so happy that when he asked to play the piano, I let him. Of course, I told him that he needed to play softly because there were students studying in the coffee shop.
I unlocked the grand piano and he sat down.
Classical music is my go to music. Tchaikovsky is my favorite. Swan Lake is my favorite music off all time. When he began to play Mozart, I stood behind him quite impressed. Then he suddenly stopped.
“No. That’s not right,” he said, shaking his head back and forth, while he scratched his behind. After a loud “Humph,” he began the same symphony again…Symphony No. 40 in g minor… IN A DIFFERENT KEY!
NOTE: I really don’t know the name of the music. I just googled Mozart and chose one of his most recognizable masterpieces.
Did you hear me? He played it again in a different Key. Then he abruptly stopped in the middle and said, “That’s wrong.” He squeezed his eyes shut for what seemed the longest time.
I held my breath.
“It should be like this,” he declared, and played the piece in the same key, however different in several places. As I watched and listened, I realized that as unbelievable as it seemed, he was rewriting Mozart! When he finished, there were several students in the coffee shop who applauded.
After the concert he stood, and I locked the piano once again. We both walked together to the counter where I stood behind the cash register.
Out of breath he leaned in and said, “Did you know that the aliens from Saturn sent me a message last week?”
“No, do tell.”
He moved his hand over the other in a broad circle. “Y’know the rings are like a record.”
“And NASA sent up the spaceship Cassini, right?”
“Well, it glanced along the rings like a needle on a record…and they sent me a message!”
Now you know what I was thinking. The same thing you are thinking. So, I whispered to him, “What. Did. They. Say?”
He leaned in closely and whispered back, “I. Can’t. Tell. You.”
Well, of course, it was a message to him. Not a message to the world. We said goodbyes and before he left, he turned around and said to me, “You are only the twenty-third person I have ever told about this.”
After he left, I changed the store’s overhead music to “Mozart for Learning.” And… I listened for a message from Saturn.