Jan 2014
Evan Holland

The Age-old sibling rivalry continues via The French Press

Who’s supposed to exchange the defective French Press?

My sister asked me point blank 48 hours before my birthday, “What do you want?”

As an aspiring Bean Barron – a sort of coffee speculator, my answer was simple: “a French Press.”

“Done,” she said and walked out of the room.  I silently fist pumped for two reasons.  First, I knew for sure I would like one of my birthday gifts and second, my sister had finally embraced what gift giving is really about – materialism.

I don’t know if it came with maturity or an income, but when she was younger she would take things from members of my family a few weeks ahead of a gift giving holiday like Christmas or a birthday and then give this item back to you as a gift.

The other route she would sometimes take would be to give abstract concepts as “gifts.”  For example, one year for Christmas, I got the “gift” of “patience.”  These “gifts” always came wrapped in a box that would normally house a sweater, but instead of tearing through the tissue to find a sweater, I would find a slip of paper with my concept for the year typed on it.

Like I said, thank god, she finally has become materialistic.

Anyways, my birthday came, she gave me the French Press and I was living in a caffeinated bliss – an ignorant bliss that is.

The second time I went to use my device of coffee snobbery, the coffee began leaking out of the bottom.  She watched me continue to pour as the coffee continued to leak like the Exxon Valdez.  I slowly set down the French Press down and looked at her.

She was sitting on the other end of the table eating breakfast talking to my mom about the latest happenings on Vanderpump Rules as my mom feigned interest (admittedly I walked in and out of the family room enough during winter break that collectively, I probably have seen an entire episode, that’s how often my sister watched it while we were home).

Anyways, I pointed to the puddle of freshly brewed wasted coffee.  She looked at it and said, “That sucks.”  I could not have said it better myself and I asked her when she was going to return the French Press to the store and exchange it for another one.  She said, she’s not and that’s now the issue.

Who’s job is it to exchange the French Press?  Let the digging in of heels to begin.

I explained to her she gave a defective gift and it was only the polite thing to do to exchange the French Press for another.  She disagreed and believed ownership had transferred to me upon receipt of the gift.

Two days had now gone by and still no movement from her camp.  I was up against the clock as I was going back to school that coming weekend, so in my first volley and in attempt to move things along, I put the box the French Press came in front of her bedroom door.  She proceeded to walk around it for the next four days.  The worst part was the lack of acknowledgement.  She didn’t say a word about, but I knew she had to of seen it.  It was now Friday and I only had 48 hours until I left for Omaha, so I asked her, “Are you exchanging the French Press this morning or this afternoon?”  My thinking was that by phrasing it this way, instead of “are you exchanging it,” she would think that we had agreed she would take care of it.

She looked at me with a look of confusion and said, “Neither, but I put the receipt right there on the table for you and if you’re looking for the box it’s upstairs in front of my door.  It’s been there for days.  Not sure why you have waited this long to take care of this,” and she walked out of the room.

Now 24 hours before I returned to school I asked her, “So the French Press…”  With a look of confusion mixed with a complete lack of concern, she asked, “What about it?”

I explained once again she needed to exchange the gift as the giver of a defective gift.  She presented a more nuanced argument this time like a law professor with a series of hypotheticals, “What would happen if the sweater you gave me for Christmas was the wrong size or I didn’t like it?”  Not giving me time to answer, she continued, “I’d have to return it, right?  I would have to go exchange it, right? Even though you are the one who gave it to me…”

Apples and oranges if you ask me.  I explained clothes are much more personal and subjective and sometimes require the actual recipient of the gift to resolve the problem, but with hardware or something that comes as is and can’t be personalized – the recipient is absolved of all necessary follow up.

We were still at an impasse the day I had to leave and there was no sign of either side giving in, so my mom did her best Ed Hochuli impression and settled it for us. Because there was now no time to exchange the gift, she gave me her old, smaller French Press and my mom would exchange the other one for a bigger, newer one.

Not sure if this scored as a victory for me or not in the age-old sibling rivalry.  I’ll leave that to others to debate, but one thing is for sure – I’m asking my sister for a gift card next year.