TBS Anonymous

TBS Anon: Our family home was ruined in the Sydney Storm and we were laughed at

Approx Reading Time-10Our family home was one of the victims of the Sydney Storms, but instead of compassion, we were met by unspoken “serves you right” smugness.


Before the violent storms of last weekend, I figured all property damage/loss was worthy of compassion. But after our family home took a beating at the cruel hands of the elements, my wife and I instead faced mockery. Apparently the homes in Vaucluse or Collaroy don’t garner the same compassion given to homeowners in Picton.

Will insurance cover this? Yes and no.

Will we survive this? Absolutely.

Should our loss be marginalised because of our postcode? No.

Before you make assumptions, I would like to tell you a bit about us. I grew up in Tamworth, the son of a newsagency owner. My mother and father ran one of the least successful newsagency businesses in the region; the loss of tourists to Tamworth their final nail. I was 20 when I saw my father take a loan of $15,000 from his father to start over. I watched my parents fight over money, my father desperate to prove he was going to make the life he promised for my mother on their wedding day in 1961. I used to look at the photo of the two of them, beaming. She, so full of hope at a life with the man of her dreams, and he, so ready to be the best husband and father he could be. But instead I saw a man grappling with the local barber over his haircut price, and letting the phone ring out in fear of who would be on the other end. I vowed to never live that way.

In 1982, I finished a degree in Engineering and also a GradDip in Financial Planning and Management. I started out by working in Tamworth for the bigger Banks and ended up moving through the ranks to eventually oversee a rural loan book worth over $100 million. By 38, I married my wife and we moved to Sydney, where I took over one of the biggest rural finance agencies and was appointed an Associate Fellow at one of the most prestigious business schools in NSW.

But that is my work life; my home life is even more precious. My wife is my best friend and has helped me build a home to raise five children. Each of our children makes us proud, and we spend each Friday night together to have a family meal. Our home is the result of a life of sacrifice, and feeling the fear but doing it anyway. The important thing is, our home is an example that I did not become my father.

The family in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney deserves to be treated with the same feelings of empathy as the families in Picton, or Northern NSW and the Southern Highlands. The reason that won’t happen, is plain prejudice.

We took in images of the Sydney floods which destroyed parts of NSW over the past weekend.

On social media I saw people laugh when restaurants that have had millions invested into them were utterly, ruined. I saw the home in Collaroy that had the pool detached. The reaction from the “online world” is mockery. Ride a wave and point and joke. The tall poppy washed away.

Ha ha.

But, the Internet is one thing; reality another. The way we were treated is what necessitated my writing about our experience. Soon after our house was damaged, our first call was to the insurance company. The young man on the other end of the phone warmly queried me about the state of my family and whether we could safely stay in the house, and was empathetic for our loss.

That is, until he asked I confirm my address.

As I did so, the personality drained from his voice and from then on I was just a problem to be dealt with. His silent loathing of our address was near-palpable through the following series of blunt yes/no answers. Clearly, the shoulder to cry on was not needed, because he can afford to fix it.

Let me ask you, why does location factor into compassion?

I don’t believe that the worth of our property, makes us less worthy of compassion than those who have not been as fortunate as us. The family in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney deserves to be treated with the same feelings of empathy as the families in Picton, or Northern NSW and the Southern Highlands. The reason that won’t happen, is plain prejudice.

The next time you mock someone who has endured a loss, consider why you deem them a different type of human to yourself simply because their years of sacrifice and hard work have brought them good fortune.

We are all Aussie battlers, even if our wars are fought with a different vista.



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  3. HAL 9000 said:

    Once, if you were privileged and met with disaster, you were expected
    to exhibit a stiff upper lip: ‘I do not regret this journey. We took
    risks, we knew we took them, things have come out against us. Therefore
    we have no cause for complaint.’ – Scott of the Antarctic.

  4. aussiej said:

    It matters because it is indicative of what an unkind, uncivil society we are becoming. He is not asking for your personal sympathy, he is just pointing out how judgemental people can be. This notion of “well he can afford it” completely dehumanises the fact that this is a family of 7 who have experienced loss. Yes they will get over it, yes it is not the end of the world, but why do people gloat and poke fun in such a way that denies them the right to empathy?

  5. aussiej said:

    That is such a prick of a response. And you are exactly the kind of bigot that he is talking about . You have cast a judgement based purely on your own bitterness. Blaming “the system” is a cop out for not having the self discipline for doing without or not wanting to buy in an area that is not hipster enough. The only one being self-pitying is YOU! Revolution? If you want to live in a socialist society, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay? Take your pick and enjoy the housing prices while you are there.

  6. Guest said:

    Hated when he used to see his father and mother stress about financial problems and having to take out a loan, albeit from the grandfather.
    Goes and works for a bank, in particular loans, and does well by doing to others what happened to him as a child.
    Not sure man, just not sure..

  7. Farmer Dave said:

    How ironic that you don’t recognise the hypocrisy of calling someone a bogan!?

  8. Farmer Dave said:

    People make assumptions all the time about where you live, what car you drive, how you dress or your grammar/ spelling.
    Are these always correct? No but it continues.
    The worse offender of this has to be the media. I see it all the time labelling ppl as ‘Western Sydney’, Greenie, shooter or more often now with the rise of reality TV, celebrity! lol
    Get over it, really these ppl don’t know you so why is it important to you or do you feel that your integrity has been affected somehow, if so talk to a professional but don’t expect a lot of sympathy from others. For all you know they may have worse problems than you could even relate to.
    Be grateful that you have money & that insurance will pay for some of the damage but more so that it was only property that was damaged.

  9. Fandom_9 said:

    Some of these comments make me realise Australia is just how we judge and wish bad things on people that’ve done better than us. Bitter tall poppy syndrome rears it’s ugly head, sad how pathetic people are yet get offended when they are referred to as bogans. This is why.

  10. No said:

    No, sorry – you and your self-pity can get fucked. You have money and insurance, you will be fine. I will save my compassion for those that do not even have a place to sleep tonight.

    I am bitter because the system in this country for housing is crooked. You’ve won the rigged game – don’t rub your self-pity in our faces. Just be thankful the revolution hasn’t come yet.

  11. Guest said:

    You sound confused and bitter and instead of thinking through your comments you insult both myself and the author. Starting with ‘this idiot’ shows a lack of comprehension skills and nice try twisting the dad comment.

  12. Matt Briody said:

    I feel sorry for this guy, but not because of his house.

  13. JohnDoe said:

    Didn’t say that he deserves tragedy did I, build on your comprehension skills. I’m saying he’ll live without any real money worries which is why people don’t show sympathy for him. Also if you’re going to sink $10 million plus into a property you should research your investment, history shows that similar issues occurred back in the 60s/70s. “The important thing is, our home is an example that I did not become my father.” is pretty damn disrespectful.

  14. Guest said:

    So you reckon he deserves tragedy cos he has a nice place? Pretty sure you are the perfect example of why Aussies are deemed bitter and ignorant with tall poppy syndrome. Not sure what he said about his dad that bothered you, sounds like you got some problems there pal.

  15. JohnDoe said:

    The reason why this idiot wasn’t show the same sympathy as those in Picton is because he’s had a well-insured mansion. He can afford full coverage on it too so there is no chance in hell he faces financial ruin over this. Also clear lack of research into buying the property, or paying attention to any other beachfront properties which were severely damaged in floods *cough* Gold Coast *cough*. Also you want some god damn sympathy how about you show your dad some.

  16. DrewsTurbo said:

    Speaking as someone who found this article through the angry and self-righteous rant of the sort of person the author describes, I have to say I agree with the author.

    If the man in question has worked hard to get where he is then I fail to see how it is a good thing to celebrate his misfortune. Isn’t celebrating the misfortune of others the actions of a bully or a grinch?

    I grew up in a family that had little and as an adult it still has little. Sure, there may be some level of envy of those that have more material wealth than I, but celebrating their hardship? Seriously? My assessment of a person comes from their character and is not dependent on their bank balance or email signature. I honestly couldn’t care less if a person is a receptionist or a CEO – I will treat them the same and I will employ the same character judgements based on what sort of person they are.

    Some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known have been both very materially wealthy and very materially poor. If someone needs help then you help them if you’re a decent human being. At the end of the day you don’t know the life of strangers and it would be fanciful and naive in the extreme to think that the wealthy don’t face pain and trials.

    If you’re the type who decides that a person’s material success (or lack thereof) is the single biggest arbiter of whether they’re worthy of help or compassion then all you have done is to throw a very unflattering spotlight on your own character and values, not theirs.

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