“Way to go,” I was tempted to say after overhearing a matter of fact conversation with a mom and her wiggly son. Walking though Macy’s furniture department on the way to the bathroom I heard her say, “Get your feet off the couch. It doesn’t belong to you.”

“Well, if we buy it then can I put my feet on it,” he asked? She was not pleased with his come back. “No!”

“Good for her,” I thought. Somewhere along the way teaching kids to respect other people’s property has gotten lost. So the kids grow up and recklessly borrow everything from friends, neighbors and family members. My mom used to tell me “Take care of other people’s things not like they were your own, but better.” That’s probably why I hate to borrow anything except a cup of sugar.

When I was in high school there was one rule with my car; don’t lend it to anyone. A friend only needed to move something 3 blocks, so I caved in and broke the rule. She backed into a brick wall like she was aiming for it. I instantly learned about the sticky transactions of lending and borrowing.

Someone borrowed Jim’s lawn mower years ago and it wouldn’t start after it was returned. The borrower put diesel in the gas tank and “forgot” to tell Jim. A hefty repair bill later it worked. I suppose it’s best to never let someone borrow something that would be disastrous if it was returned damaged or if it was lost. I’m almost to the point if I lend something, I mentally give it away. That way if something happens, it wasn’t really mine anymore anyway.

It’s hard to draw a boundary and say no when someone asks to borrow things we aren’t comfortable lending. Probably because the last thing we want is to look selfish. But to preserve the future of the relationship we might have to take the looking selfish risk.

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