A couple of days ago, while waiting in line to check out a couple of books from the library, I couldn’t help overhearing the patron in front of me getting chewed out. Apparently she was trying to weasel out of paying a hefty fine on a stack of overdue books and DVDs. The patron eventually paid what was owed, and the library revoked her borrowing privileges.
This was an awkward situation that I really did not want to witness. It did remind me of the many times that friends had failed to return items and repay small monetary loans. I’ve never fully understood why so many people do not return borrowed items or why those who do, sometimes return items in worse condition.
Perhaps I don’t understand compulsive borrowers because I am one of those people who are reluctant to borrow things from friends. I absolutely hate to borrow money from a bank to pay for a vehicle. I never run up a credit card balance higher than what I can comfortably repay in one payment. I’m absolutely “allergic” to borrowing stuff from friends, even if they offer it themselves.
Even though I don’t hold grudges, I still remember the time, several decades ago when I was struggling financially, an acquaintance begged for a loan of $100 that she promised to repay the following week. Even though I was barely getting by, I bowed to her pressure and loaned the cash. A week went by and she failed to repay my badly needed funds. I politely asked for the money because it was needed to go towards apartment rent. She never did repay the loan and she broke off our friendship.
I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t loan friends money. If I feel they have a legitimate need and I can afford it, any money I give them is a gift, not a loan. Friendship is more valuable than a few dollars. If that friend feels the same way, she will find a way to repay the obligation in some meaningful way. I simply do not loan money to anyone anymore.
A similar lesson was learned back when video cassettes were all the rage. I had a modest collection of movies on tape that I enjoyed watching with friends. A couple of times a pal asked to borrow movies. He had been prompt in returning them, but one time he failed to give a couple of tapes back. It turned out that his VCR “ate” two of my tapes and he hadn’t gotten around to buying replacements for me. The incident strained our friendship for awhile.
Lesson number two. Don’t loan things I want to keep. If I know a friend needs something of mine and I don’t need it anymore, I consider giving it as a gift. These days, that scenario rarely happens because I have friends who are also reluctant to borrow items from other people.
Regarding the only items I routinely borrow, library books, I have a place near the front door, where I store them. I also have a regular day of the week when I go to the library. On that day, I grab the books as I leave the house. This is such a habit, that I rarely give it much thought. I’ve never had to pay an overdue fine.
Through trial and error I’ve learned to be more careful of bonding with people who display overt selfishness and break simple promises. In many cases, acquaintances who fail to return my things have turned out to be overly self-centered, entitled, and inconsiderate. I remain civil with them, but they are not in my inner circle because they have violated my trust. This is exactly what I would expect in return if I should ever violate their trust by not returning something they had loaned to me.
A real turn off is someone who tries to put me on the spot by trying to take advantage of my generous nature. This tells me the borrower is manipulative. I have an effective “filter” that helps shield me from manipulative people. Again, if I see that the person has a legitimate need, I evaluate whether or not I can afford to take a loss because I will probably never see the loaned object or cash again.
My friends know I can be generous. They also know I don’t lend or borrow things. This has made life mutually smoother and happier for everyone concerned. On the extremely rare times that someone offers to loan me something and I accept, I return the item promptly. This is an important way to maintain trust.
After all, trust is one of the main ingredients of friendship.