We play our parts
Friday July 24th 2015, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Music

I was at the satellite Stanford clinic today for the first time in maybe a year and a half? I wondered if he still played. But it was Friday afternoon, one of his times, and when I walked in there there he was at the piano in the atrium still (intro to Piano Guy in that post).

His face lit up when he saw me, and after finishing one piece he made a point of getting up and coming over and telling me he’d worn that hat I’d knit him just last week.

There were cushy couches and chairs and elderly patients who were taking the time to listen, like I was; it’s not often you get offered a live concert simply for being present.

One woman walking past saw the knitting in my hands, smiled, and pulled out the burnt-orange wool in stockinette stitch from her bag. We had that moment of mutual recognition that knitters everywhere get to share before she continued on her way.

Piano Guy came over to our little group again with a piece of paper, where typed in quite fine print was a very long list of songs. He said he plays maybe 20% from such a list on any given two-hour set, and did I want to pick one?

The elderly woman he’d asked first had apparently picked a Beatles song. I–and I wondered immediately after what had possessed me, but I picked Candle In The Wind, and he smiled and said sure and looked pleased.

I’ve been told he’s a cancer survivor and that he plays there to give back in thanks and to make the day a little easier for others going through such ordeals. He’s a gifted musician, and I wondered what he would do with that piece in that context.

He made it into a searching, honest, positive, uplifting piece of music. I doubt the elderly there knew the words (although come to think of it they likely had kids my age so who knows.) He made it something a patient would take strength from. It was the most amazing rendition. He looked my way and nodded as his hands flew.

And then, hey, while we’re on Elton John he continued on into Daniel my brother…

He was playing the next thing when three young women walked up and singled me out and asked if they could ask me some questions, since I wasn’t doing anything.

Uh, my head was nodding and my foot tapping while my hands were knitting to the time of the music and I was actually quite engaged in the moment, but what I said out loud was, Sure!

The leader plopped down next to me and started talking, utterly oblivious to the scene around her and the look of distress of the woman who’d gotten to hear her Beatles song.

Playing music is a thing you do and become and are in the childhood that I grew up in, not incessant background chatter to ignore.

But they were so intent on their mission that it just didn’t even enter in.

Their questions were not going to take fewer than thirty seconds–I pulled them away down that hall thataway. (Reluctantly.) But they were offering me a chance to help other patients in their own way: they wanted to revamp Stanford’s patients’ website’s user interface.

And fixing that particular site was something I could totally get on board with. It’s been a wreck. If the patient with username and password at hand can’t even get in…

What did you do, did you call?

Yes, I called.

The leader asked the questions, the younger two took notes to compare against each other later. She presented page after page after page, if they had it like this, what would be good/bad about it? What about this? Which do you like better?

The eye is drawn here, I said, and that button up there in the corner is not intuitive–put it here and put a second one there by this and by that. Make it easy. Make it make sense. This? This is trying to put everything on one page, one of the problems you already have. The elderly might not know to scroll. Have a page for this, a page for that–no, you should be doing that before you get to the list of providers, it makes no sense to put it after.

Would you want a dropdown list of all the providers? Or just all your providers? Or a truncated list of yours, based on the ones you’ve seen in, say, the last year?

How many doctors are there at Stanford? (!) All one’s own providers, and that Find A New Provider entry on the next line. If a patient is seeing an individual doctor, do this, but if they’re to see any doctor within a group in that specialty at any given time without getting to choose just the one, then set it up this way.

“I do have opinions,” I laughed.

“We want opinions!” they laughed in return. “That’s what we’re looking for!”

I had totally lost all sense of time by that point, and so it was that they sent me on my way with a $10 gift card for Starbucks in thanks, apologizing that it was so small while I said No, thank you, that’s cool! (Thinking, it offers a sense of discovery: a Mormon inside the ubiquitous coffee chain, ordering hot chocolate and–a pastry? Bagel? What do they have? I just never go, it’ll be an adventure. They had no idea.)

Turns out I walked out the front door with that elderly woman I’d been sitting near and she told me our pianist had left immediately before us. I’d just missed him.

I had wanted to thank him for how he’d played Candle.

But I didn’t really need to. He knew.

2 Comments so far
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FYI, Julia loves Starbucks (her mother…) and she loves the chocolate banana smoothie and the bacon gouda sandwich.

Comment by morgan 07.25.15 @ 4:39 pm

Starbucks has a great sustainability program – and it includes cocoa!

Also, it’s nice to reconnect with people I’ve met through your blog. I’m a little hurt I wasn’t asked to pick out a song, but I’ll get over it. 😉

Comment by twinsetellen 07.26.15 @ 7:29 pm

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