K5LAD - 50+ Years of Ham Radio Memories

Volume XXVI

How to get a new radio past your wife

By Jim Pickett – K5LAD

It's interesting to talk with hams and hear the many techniques of "marital negotiation" they use to convince their spouse that they need to make a purchase of a piece, or several pieces, of ham equipment. Typically, the buyer is the male and the one to convince is his wife but it might just as easily be with these roles in reverse. To listen to the processes used is almost as varied as the snowflakes in an Oklahoma snowstorm and as abundant as the grains of sand on the beach.

A recent discussion on an Internet reflector populated by hams brought to light a number of these techniques. Some almost define the popular quote, "it's better to get down and beg for forgiveness than it is to ask permission." This attitude had been used in literally thousands; perhaps millions, of instances and many of those have been oriented toward a ham radio equipment purchase.

It's important that the term "wasting money" be held to an absolute minimum when discussing the procurement of ham equipment, particularly new equipment. It's one of those terms that often rears its ugly head but should be suppressed at all costs. It will not appear again in this discussion.

Some clever hams use the system, 'My wife and I trade purchases for our hobbies.' This is the system where the two partners both buy what they want to satisfy their hobby needs but it is done on a one for one basis, i.e., she buys something, and I buy something. This becomes rather awkward if his hobby is ham radio and hers is collecting chewing gum wrappers or sewing needles. Unless the relative costs of pieces in the two hobbies are nearly the same, this system has a flaw that is bound to fester some day. Also, obviously, for this system to work, even if kept on a nearly equal basis, there must be an abundance of funds able to cover the costs of collections of items on both sides. That has seldom been the case with the folks I've run with during my lifetime so I mention it only with I as a distant observer and not one who has actually experienced it. If I have failed to mention all the complete details of this plan, it was due to my failure to actually live it.

Some men have used a system that involves a gift of jewelry just prior to the casual mention of the ham's requirement for a new antenna, transceiver, amplifier, or VHF/UHF talkie. This system is often very successful, as long as not used too often. It does, however, require a healthier than average checking and/or savings account so this one is certainly not for everyone.

One other system mentioned involved only buying physically smaller items, using the excuse that, "it's just one of those little do-dads." It's important, when using this system, that the ham practices the ability to have a good 'poker face' since presentation, here, is critical. There can easily be follow-up questions.

Another technique, although not recommended nor encouraged by me, is to just buy an item and never mention anything about it, one way or the other. This falls into the category of 'it may work for now, it may work for several more times, but some day..................some day it will come back to bite you. It may not occur on the first or second time you try it but suffice it to say, some day it will catch up with you.

One man who was participating in the discussion on the reflector made an interesting observation. While several guys were talking about the tricks.............. er, that is, the techniques they used to purchase a more costly piece of ham equipment in their family. His comment was, "Fortunately, I'm between wives at the moment, and don't have that problem." I believe his comment spoke volumes and needs no additional elaboration from me.

There were several hams who commented that their spouse was also a ham so they had no problems in spending family funds on 'family fun'. Perhaps .............. perhaps ............. however, I was reminded of a quote by Abraham Lincoln who once said (paraphrased), "If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Five? Nope. Just callin' a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." Well just calling a spouse a ham doesn't guarantee unlimited purchases. Just because she's a ham doesn't always make high-dollar acquisitions a "shoo-in." When it actually happens you're truly a fortunate and happy ham.

Another technique used is the "I'm the boss" system. This involves the comments by Mr. John A. Ham who tells Mrs. Ham, "I earn all the money in this family and I'll spend the money like I want." Oddly enough, perhaps coincidently, members from this group are seldom pictured on the Society Section of the local newspaper under the headline, "Mr. and Mrs. John A. Ham celebrate their golden wedding anniversary!" As a matter of fact, John A. Ham, is seldom seen shopping in the local Hallmark Card and Gift store while asking the clerk what is the anniversary gift typical for a 2nd year wedding anniversary. I would also suspect that male participants in this technique could provide other men with numerous tips on sleeping more comfortably on a living room sofa or perhaps sharing their sleeping space with a friend who is named, Fido. One quote I read on one of the reflectors said, "A wise man builds a comfortable dog house. With 240 volts available." Well said...... well said.

Actually, my favorite technique was one I saw back in the 1970s when I owned and operated a ham radio store in Broken Arrow. One Saturday a gentleman came in and was interested in purchasing a new Kenwood TS-520 HF transceiver. We negotiated the deal and he paid his invoice. I commented to him something about how I imagined he was anxious to get his new rig home and put it on the air. He looked at me seriously and said, "Oh no......... It will be at least a week or two before I’m able to fire it up. I'll take it over to my buddy George's house and unpack it completely. We'll stick it up in George’s attic where it is pretty dusty." He continued on, much to my amazement. "Next weekend or so, while my wife is in the same room I'm in, I'll call George on the phone and say, 'Hey George; do you still have that old TS-520 I loaned you? Are you using it now? OK, well I think I'll come over and pick it up and use it here again."

He then said, "I'll go over and bring it back to the house without cleaning it up from its time in George's attic. I'll carry it by where my wife is seated and purposely blow the dust off." He then innocently questioned, "I wonder if this old thing still works?"

I've thought about that story many times in the years that followed. Now there's a clever ham. I can't say it would work for everyone and I certainly would never try that with my wife.

Perhaps there are other "techniques" in use but I dare not continue as it’s nearly suppertime at my house…………………… I hope.

Published TARC Newsletter May 2, 2011

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