A good friend of mine was given a bicycle second-hand by her in-laws. They no longer had a use for it, and she has been using it as a means of exercise and activity. Now they have found a new use for the bicycle, and told her that “they’re going to need the bike back.” (They didn’t even have the decency to make it sound like a request!)
What do you do when someone gives you something that they no longer have a use for, and then ask for it back? Obviously if it’s just been sitting in your basement or garage, it should be no issue to give it back, but what if you use it frequently and do not have the means to replace it? Is it wrong that they are asking you to give back something that they gave you with the intention that you keep it and use it, or are you wrong for not wanting to give back something you regularly use now that they’ve found a use for the item that, not long ago, they no longer wanted? And if it’s perfectly acceptable for you to keep the item, how do you tell the person, “No”?
In a related issue with the same people, she very clearly (and graciously) loaned them a lovely piece of nursery furniture–a family heirloom that belonged to her grandmother–so that they could use it when they had their child. The baby is now between 18 months and two years old, and they no longer use the furniture, though it continues to sit in the nursery (seemingly to fill up space). My friend recently had her first child and would like to use it for him, but it seems they not only have not asked if she is ready to have it back, but that they have actually avoided the subject altogether, and it seems they have no intention of returning the borrowed item. She is simply too kind and forgiving to ask, and she doesn’t want to cause a rift with her in-laws. If it weren’t a family heirloom, she would probably just forget the whole thing, but there is a lot of sentimental value in this item, which they were made aware of. If I borrowed an item like this I would make the effort to return it when I ceased using it. Or, at the very least, when I found that she was expecting her child. I also would certainly never borrow an heirloom for fear of breaking it! I try to be accommodating in most ways possible, and I’m sure my friend felt that loaning this item to these “family members” would be no issue, but I think the wisest decision I ever made was to never loan something that I couldn’t bear to give away.
When you have loaned an item to someone for their use and convenience, how do you go about asking that they return the item when they no longer have a need for it and you do? 0519-10