I’ve sat down to write this post so many times, and I have deleted it without posting it. But this time I am going to push through, complete it, and post it.
When I was a kid, family gatherings were my happy place. Most other kids would have done almost anything to get out of them but I have such a huge respect for the people in my family that I would always go, even if it meant missing out on time with my friends.
My Uncle has always been a bit of an odd duck, but I’ve always adored him anyway. He has a lot of quirks, quite a bit of OCD, and he loves his alcohol – possibly a little too much.
He has always been an argumentative type of person. I recall many family gatherings where he started an argument with someone over something so trivial and mundane and the type of argument that cannot actually be won because there is no right and wrong.. sometimes these arguments lasted for hours.
While I never landed on his side of the argument, I had to deeply appreciate his willingness to stubbornly stick to his side of things despite many excellent arguments to the contrary. He rarely won these arguments and some of them could be raised again simply by mentioning them.
I do remember one very long family gathering where one of the cousins had $5,000 to spend, and there was a huge argument – should he buy a block of land, or a car? My Uncle was for the block of land. My cousin chose the car, which he later wrote off in an accident, and this is always mentioned when they see each other.
He split from his first wife fairly early on, and then was single for quite a long time until he found someone new, lets call her Amazing, because she had to be to put up with the things she did.
My Uncle ended up working with myself and my Dad in an electrical store for about 2 years, when I was young and just starting out in the working world. This was a time when I had many arguments with my Uncle. We are a family of salespeople, but some of us in the family refused to sell products we knew to be shoddily built. My Uncle would sell whatever got him the most commission.
One day we had a huge argument about his brand of washing machines – 99% of people would get less than 2 years out of his favoured brand, due to a built in electronics panel which always failed – in fact many of us in the industry believed it was deliberately designed to fail. He owned one himself, and the company routinely paid $20-50 per machine sold to the salesperson – they call it a “Spiv” or a “Spiff”.
My brand was built to last, had an old school mechanical dial which never failed, plus had a 10 year warranty. They did not pay spivs.
One day he arrived at work looking downcast – his washing machine electronics panel had failed. His machine was less than 18 months old and yet, out of warranty, at least for the electronics panel. The replacement panel would cost him around $300, and I said – don’t replace it, because it will just fail again! Buy my machine instead!
I could not tell you whether I finally won the argument – whether he did replace the part or not, or whether he spoke to the supplier and told them to replace it for free otherwise he would stop selling their machines. I’d guess it was the latter option if pushed, but I honestly cannot remember.
What I do remember was this electronic panel failure meant I finally won the argument with him. Though I’d always won that argument with myself all along – I knew the right thing to do was to sell the customer the most reliable product, even if it might not be the one they walked in the door asking for.
I can also tell you that at any opportunity, my Uncle does not fail to remind me of this argument we once had. Neither of us even owns those washing machines anymore! He just loves to argue the old arguments, even if he lost them a long time ago.
Things were going well with my Uncle and Amazing, they bought a house together, moved in, and my Uncle was working in real estate sales and doing really well in general. Then he had a health complication and things began to fall apart. He split up with Amazing and eventually..
..he decided to leave the country and go to China to find a new wife.
Yes, this was quite a shocking development to the entire family, this decision seemed to arrive out of nowhere and many of us were concerned as there is a tendency for Australian men in their older years to marry Women from Asia and then the ladies take off once they get Permanent Residency here.
Coming soon – the story of my Chinese Aunt.