My Uncle

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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.

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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.

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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.

*boggle*

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.

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12 thoughts on “My Uncle

  1. I know people who would have been suckered in by your uncle, they were always out for the cheaper option, saving money, or so they thought. I’m different, I go for things that will last and can be repaired, with all parts covered by guarantee. My current washing machine is a sturdy item, has moved house with me several times. I bought it because it was guaranteed for 25 years of heavy duty daily use. I don’t use it daily and it doesn’t get heavy loads often so I figure it should last me more than the 25 years. It’s close to 20 years old now and has never given me any trouble.

    • Was it a Kleenmaid? I think that might have been the only brand who guaranteed for that kind of length of time.. :)

      The F&P tended to be more expensive than the more sturdy Whirlpool I recommended, it is just everyone was so sold on that brand, it was sometimes very difficult to try and talk them into a better machine. They advertised very well and the true facts and word of mouth did not bite them in the rear until later years when everyone had been well and truly burned by their products.

      You can spend a lot of money on advertising when your product is cheaply made and shoddy to boot! :)

  2. We had such a washing machine, two failed electronic panels and my mother had a larger model, three failed electronic panels. I guess we know which brand we are talking about. Oddly we bought the same brand twice more, the second lasted around eight years or more and the current one is doing very well at ten years old.

    • Exactly, but in case there is any confusion, F&P is the dodgy brand I am talking about.

      I’ve been out of electronics for a while now, and I am not sure if they fixed their issues. Though I am aware they were doing a very dodgy thing with their catalogs, trying to compete with front loads, they were writing something like Water use* and when you followed the star, it said *Per fill” – and nowhere did it mention there are 2 fills and one rinse, so the water usage number was totally fake.

      How they got away with this, I do not know.

      The brand I always recommended in a top load was either Kleenmaid if money was no obstacle, or Whirlpool if people were on a budget. You could always get a Whirlpool for less than a F&P, and they were built to last.

      • Yes, F&P. Interesting about the water use. I had not heard that it and it is quite outrageous. Our next will be a front loader with a built in condenser dryer. It would be too hard to connect a new dryer to the exhaust vent and the dryer must be 16 years old.

  3. I have always preferred the simple and not very electronic brands because I’ve been burned by those fancy gadgets before. They’re expensive to fix, if one can even locate the problem! I remember the story about your Chinese aunt and was fascinated by it. That blog comment got more attention than my original post. :)

    • So many times I have tried to write about this but everything reads so cynical when I put it on paper. :) I found the comment I left, and I will incorporate it into my next post re my Chinese Aunt. :)

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