Monday, August 4, 2014

Irresponsible Borrowing Causes Trouble For Lender

Dear Tazi:

I have a friend who is always borrowing things and never returning them!  I would not mind so much if I eventually got them back, but last week she decided to have a yard sale to clean out all of the clutter in her house.  I thought this would be my chance to get several of my personal items back, but she still did not return them.  You can imagine my surprise when I stopped by her yard sale to discover many of my personal belongings on sale!

I told "Beth" that several of the items she was trying to sell were mine, but she denied it.  She said that since I had never asked for the items back they were hers to do with as she pleased, and she was choosing to sell them to make a few extra dollars.  She told me she would compromise and let me take that which I could prove was mine without having to pay for it, but anything else that was for sale - or had already been sold - was fair game for her.  Tazi, I was livid!

I managed to find several of my sweaters and blouses (thankfully, they were monogrammed) and a few scarves; my favorite umbrella (also monogrammed); and a box full of my books (which had my bookplates inside the front cover).  While gathering up my stuff, someone had the audacity to tell me she was planning on buying much of what I was holding, and demanded it of me!  I was so disgusted, I walked off before letting Beth examine what I was taking with me...which has led to a bigger problem.

One of the items that I took - thinking in all honesty that it was mine - was an expensive, antique Waterford crystal decanter.  I recall having one once, and not remembering what happened to it so I figured I had let Beth borrow it and she had never returned it.  The decanter is easily worth $500, and Beth was going to sell it for $10!  This was the item that Beth's customer had wanted to purchase.  Beth called me about the missing decanter, and we argued over it.  I refused to return it, thinking it was mine.  Later that evening, when my husband came home from work, he was surprised to see the decanter and asked me where I got it.  When I told him, he reminded me that our decanter had shattered several years ago, when one of our nephews went careening into the sideboard.

I called Beth to offer an apology, with the disclaimer that she had so much of my stuff at her yard sale that it was an easy mistake to make, but she refused my apology - and demanded the $10 for the decanter!  I refused to pay her, and offered it back to her, but she refused, saying that I had walked off with it from the yard sale so therefore I had bought it.  Personally, I think Beth owes me for anything of mine that may have sold at her yard sale and that we are even!  What is your opinion, Tazi?


Dear Ripped...Off:

When you loaned Beth all of these items, did you ever ask for her to return them or did you simply wait for her to eventually bring them back to you?  Did you ever remind her that she still had your stuff?  Unless you both have the same initials, I cannot imagine why someone would want to borrow another's monogrammed clothing, but I digress.  The point it you allowed Beth to use your stuff and you never asked for it back.  Your stuff was at Beth's house, where you could have easily picked it up or asked her to bring it over to your house - you did neither, nor did you offer to assist Beth with the sorting of items for her yard sale - you simply showed up and expected her to remember what was hers and what was yours, in spite of the fact that you did not remember all of that yourself.

The expression "neither a borrower or a lender be" is a reminder of the personal responsibility that is involved with each party.  While the borrower is responsible for returning the item they borrowed in the same condition it was received, the lender is taking a chance that this might not happen.  Furthermore, things like books are often exchanged between friends.  My Mommie has books that she loaned years ago, but never expected to see again once they were loaned figuring the cost of sharing a good book is worth more than the value of the book.  Some of these books were returned, others have now been passed on to friends of friends.  It happens!

In the case of what is yours and what is Beth's, there is responsibility to be had on both sides.  It appears to me that your personal possessions were of no value or use to you until they were about to be sold at a yard sale.  Do you really want to be this petty with a friend?  As for Beth, she needs to compromise.  She has the right to ask for either the money or the return of her decanter, but not the right to demand that you pay for it, especially after selling some of your possessions.  Pettiness is no way to respond to pettiness - it perpetrates an ugly cycle.

I suggest that the two of you shake hands over coffee and make up with each other.  Explain to Beth that you should have taken possession of (or made repeated requests for) your borrowed stuff long before it reached this point, but that you would have appreciated it if she separated out any items if which she was unsure of ownership - as you should have done before leaving her yard sale.  As for the decanter, if Beth does not want it back ask if you can "borrow it until further notice"...if she does not get the humor in that request, you may have to reconsider your friendship with this woman.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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