I just had an interesting conversation with a casual friend about borrowing. It seems that someone he knew only incidentally borrowed an item from him. This was an item whose use is inconsequential to his daily existence, but nonetheless, it is an item of no small value. That was two weeks ago and the borrower has not yet returned the item or contacted the borrowee in any way, even to say thanks.
Borrowing is a funny business. It can lead to suspicions and resentments. I'm certain in my life I have been guilty of discourteous borrowing practices. And I have been on the other side too — generously extending myself and my belongings only to find that the borrowers did not care for my belongings in the way that I would have.
Books are a particularly sticky subject. I love my books, but in all honesty, books are hardly the same thing as a crown jewel. They can be replaced easily. But it bothers me when others ask to borrow my books and then do not return them. Or do return them, but in shabby condition. Doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s a slight irritation. The converse is also true. It bothers me when other people lend (or give, I’m not sure which) their books to me, without a stated or implied interest on my part to actually read the book. They are books that someone else just thought I should read.
Some I have tried to read and others I have not. My admission here is that I have not returned these books to their owners, partly because the manner in which I received them was not clearly defined, in my mind at least, as a borrow. I may be very guilty of the same types of offenses that offend me. Sticky subject indeed. Perhaps in 2010 I should resolve to steer clear of all manner of borrowing activity, since it appears that I am unable to manage it well.