A friend of mine recently loaned her neighbor a suitcase for a trip she was taking. The neighbor returned from her vacation weeks ago, but has made no mention of returning the suitcase. Now my friend has a trip of her own coming up soon, and she needs the suitcase back. Funnily enough, she told me that she feels guilty asking for it back! I told her that her neighbor should feel guilty for not returning the suitcase in a timely manner, especially when all she has to do is wheel it over next door.
My friend says that since her neighbor’s return, she has dropped hints, asking about how the trip went. Still, the neighbor has never mentioned the suitcase. I told her that she should call the woman and politely mention her upcoming trip, and ask when she can come by to pick up the suitcase. Surely that has to get a result!
If someone lends you something—whether it’s a book, DVD, iPod, lawnmower, or casserole dish—you should return it as soon as you’re done with it. It’s a temporary loan, not a gift, and even if the person waves you away and acts relaxed about when they expect their item back, it’s your responsibility to return it in a timely manner.
Also, don’t borrow things without asking. I once worked with someone who borrowed my umbrella one rainy day without asking, then never bothered to bring it back or replace it. To me, that’s not borrowing—it’s stealing.
Finally, don’t borrow anything you aren’t prepared to replace if the unthinkable happens. If something gets ruined or breaks while it’s in your care, you should make amends by offering to replace it. I personally make it a rule to never borrow or lend out anything that I would consider irreplaceable because of its price or sentimental value, such as jewelry, treasured books that were given as gifts, or kitchenware that was passed on from my mother. They may be important to only me, but I would be crushed if anything bad happened to them.
It’s fine to borrow items on occasion, but don’t take advantage, and be prepared to return the favor.