Author Topic: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site  (Read 6831 times)

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gen xer

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Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« on: January 01, 2013, 02:50:56 PM »

General question - has anyone else ever found that people give you their unwanted / unused items not out of a sense of generosity or goodwill ( no pun intended ) but as a thinly disguised way of clearing out their junk?
I have a few relatives / friends who cannot come over without foisting piles of stuff upon me and the kids and I am trying to find a good way of politely declining without appearing rude or ungrateful.  In the past I have accepted graciously, thanked the giver and quietly donated the stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. 

And yet I find that I am feeling more like a convenient dumping ground.  Of course I know that many people are genuinely trying to be generous and I would never, ever want to be rude or unrateful....but is there any way of stopping the insanity?  Sometimes I find the stuff brought to my house and left with a little, aggravating note...and it is now my problem.

POF

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2013, 02:58:36 PM »
You need to say it.  Thanks - but I can't use these you will have to take them back. My MIL is this way she will NOT ever throw out anything. So she tries to give it to me.... I just keep saying no. I think that by giving it away - sometimes people are still holding on to it.

I think it is rude for people to bring things over without checking with you first. its an invasion of your boundaries.

Shoo

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2013, 02:59:51 PM »
Here's what I would do.  Next time someone just drops stuff off, pack up whatever you don't want and take it back to them.  Drop it off on THEIR porch with your own note explaining that you do not want/need this.  Thanks anyway, but you don't have time/whatever to dispose of it for them.

When they bring stuff over and you actually have a chance to see it before they run off, just cut them off at the pass.  Stop being so nice, in other words.  Tell them you appreciate the thought but that you're overrun with junk (yes, use that word) or your own, and don't have any room for their stuff.  Besides that, you don't have the time/inclination to dispose of the stuff that's unusable (yes, make sure you make them aware that YOU know a lot of the stuff is unusable).

Stop LETTING yourself be a dumping ground!  Being nice has its place, but this isn't one of them.  It isn't impolite to refuse to be treated badly.

cicero

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2013, 03:13:07 PM »
oh yes. my step mother did this. you need to stop it asap. don't treat this like they are giving you a gift (they're not). treat this like they are using you (which they are).

do.not.let.the.stuff.thru.the.door. I am serious - just say "oh thank you for thinking of me but I don't want/need that/ can't use that. " if they continue to try, you continue to repeat. when they try to leave it there, carry it to their car. if people leave it at your house, tell them to please pick it up "by saturday or it's going in the trash and please don't leave any thing on my porch".

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Margo

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2013, 03:17:35 PM »
Although it may appear to be dumping, and much may be junk, the fact that in the past you've accepted and even thanked them may mean that they do think it's welcome.

For that reason, while I think it's appropriate to be firm, I wouldn't in the first instance use quite such strong language as Shoo suggests.
I would try to head them off as soon as possible. If someone shows up with a bag of stuff, when they tell you respond with something such as "What a shame you didn't tell me before you came that you were thinking of bringing a bag of stuff - I could have told you not to bring it. I've no space for extra stuff, and no time to sort through it" and stick to it. If they try to persuade you to take it, as they've brought it, be firm. Keep repeating "Thank you, but that won't be possible. I suggest you offer it to your local Goodwill"

In the case of stuff left on you step, I second the recommendation to return it to the giver with a polite note to say you are not able to take responsibility for dealing with their property.

gen xer

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2013, 04:00:45 PM »
I'm was raised in one of those "don't make waves and be eternally grateful" households which did not encourage the development of a spine so yes - I made my own pattern of accepting, thanking and disposing which I am trying to break now. 

I have said no - we don't need it, the kids have enough, thanks for thinking of us but surely someone else could use it more etc, etc....but DH has undermined me a few times with his family by hissing at me at just how RUDE I was being by not accepting the junk.  We had a fight about it actually which is why I decided to put it to e-hell!  I told him we were being used as a landfill for other people's junk and he told me I was being rude and ungrateful.  That's what had me wondering.

Amara

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2013, 04:29:40 PM »
"Thank you for thinking of me, but I am moving quickly toward a minimalist house. I really can't use and wouldn't be able to appreciate your things. [Thrift store] would love them, and then they would go to people who would use and appreciate them."

VorFemme

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2013, 05:49:21 PM »
"I'm so sorry - but my New Year's Resolution is to clean out all the stuff that we aren't using to go to the local (church, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Freecycle, women's shelter, etc. - pick one) and I don't have the time and energy to sort through this right now.

Perhaps AFTER I've gone through our stuff and donated it, I can come over to your place and go through this to see if there is anything that we can use?"

Unless you've had a new baby and they are offering clothes up to about a size 3T (babies grow faster than you'd expect and baby clothes don't take up much space) - then take them, wash them, and pick over quickly so that the stuff that will be the wrong size when your kid is most likely to hit that size can go to an organization that can handle that. 

Unless you like having garage sales...
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Carpathia

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2013, 07:08:14 PM »
This drives me up the wall. My FIL loves car boot sales and will always buy non-working, ancient electrical equipment, find out it doesn't work, then give it to us. Thankfully he did stop when we started refusing everything.
I think that's the best option; just politely refuse *everything* offered in that spiorit from now on. Just because you set a precedent before where you accepted it all with thanks doesn't mean you can't change that and set a new one.

DH's Aunt was/is the worst for this. She wants to clear out her house and loft but doesn't want to get rid of lots of things for various reasons (usually her late husband's stuff) - so she 'gifts' it to us, normally via the children. The main problem is that she *insists* we take something or she wraps it up and gives it to the children as a 'present' but then sets conditions such as we must never give it away or sell it. One such item was a bag of soft toys she gave to the children when they were young, but after she had given them she informed us that the toys must never, ever be sold, given away, or separated in any way not even put in different boxes!

I think I am probably not e-hell approved in my response. After telling her no but finding that she brings stuff over and leaves it here despite being asked to take it back, and telling her I can't promise we will never get rid of the things, and saying we have no space, I have now just ignored any directives on items and if they're left here I will take them to the nearest charity shop or the nearest bin.

JenJay

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2013, 07:49:56 PM »
I'm was raised in one of those "don't make waves and be eternally grateful" households which did not encourage the development of a spine so yes - I made my own pattern of accepting, thanking and disposing which I am trying to break now. 

I have said no - we don't need it, the kids have enough, thanks for thinking of us but surely someone else could use it more etc, etc....but DH has undermined me a few times with his family by hissing at me at just how RUDE I was being by not accepting the junk.  We had a fight about it actually which is why I decided to put it to e-hell!  I told him we were being used as a landfill for other people's junk and he told me I was being rude and ungrateful.  That's what had me wondering.

In that case I'd take the junk and dump it in DH's space and let him deal with it. If he doesn't have an office, den, etc. then maybe somewhere in the garage? I'd let him know "Relative brought some more stuff for you to go through. I put it in the garage." and I'd promptly forget it exists.

CakeEater

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2013, 08:37:45 PM »
I'm was raised in one of those "don't make waves and be eternally grateful" households which did not encourage the development of a spine so yes - I made my own pattern of accepting, thanking and disposing which I am trying to break now. 

I have said no - we don't need it, the kids have enough, thanks for thinking of us but surely someone else could use it more etc, etc....but DH has undermined me a few times with his family by hissing at me at just how RUDE I was being by not accepting the junk.  We had a fight about it actually which is why I decided to put it to e-hell!  I told him we were being used as a landfill for other people's junk and he told me I was being rude and ungrateful.  That's what had me wondering.

In that case I'd take the junk and dump it in DH's space and let him deal with it. If he doesn't have an office, den, etc. then maybe somewhere in the garage? I'd let him know "Relative brought some more stuff for you to go through. I put it in the garage." and I'd promptly forget it exists.

Absolutely!

gen xer

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2013, 08:47:28 PM »
This drives me up the wall. My FIL loves car boot sales and will always buy non-working, ancient electrical equipment, find out it doesn't work, then give it to us. Thankfully he did stop when we started refusing everything.
I think that's the best option; just politely refuse *everything* offered in that spiorit from now on. Just because you set a precedent before where you accepted it all with thanks doesn't mean you can't change that and set a new one.

DH's Aunt was/is the worst for this. She wants to clear out her house and loft but doesn't want to get rid of lots of things for various reasons (usually her late husband's stuff) - so she 'gifts' it to us, normally via the children. The main problem is that she *insists* we take something or she wraps it up and gives it to the children as a 'present' but then sets conditions such as we must never give it away or sell it. One such item was a bag of soft toys she gave to the children when they were young, but after she had given them she informed us that the toys must never, ever be sold, given away, or separated in any way not even put in different boxes!

I think I am probably not e-hell approved in my response. After telling her no but finding that she brings stuff over and leaves it here despite being asked to take it back, and telling her I can't promise we will never get rid of the things, and saying we have no space, I have now just ignored any directives on items and if they're left here I will take them to the nearest charity shop or the nearest bin.

MIL does that too.....sets conditions on stuff she is sentimentally attached to and expects everyone else to feel the same way.  I might add we are not talking about Faberge eggs or Limoges china either but everyday sort of things - sorry but if it means that much to you then YOU keep it!!

I got busted on it too....she gave us some sort of partially used craft kit that nobody had any interest in.  I got rid of it and naturally on the next visit she asked to see it  :-X.  She was scandalized....absolutely scandalized to find it was gone. 

My name was mud.....which would be fine if it made her stop....but it hasn't.  Now I just have the added dimension of being reminded of it every chance she gets.

Luci

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2013, 09:43:49 PM »
I'm completely lost here.

Why can't you say, "No. I will not promise that. Take it back."?

I've gotten a cold response and short term nastiness, but in the long run I've earned respect in other ways or not cared. I know we are programmed to try to please people, but I, for one, am also programmed to not be walked on.

fnygrl

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2013, 10:03:34 PM »
My neighbor, who is a big garage sale shopper frequently drops off items of clothing, bags of toys, and even furniture at our doorstep - usually without even letting me know.  I just open the door, or come home to a pile of unwanted items on our porch.  One afternoon, I heard someone banging and clanging up the porch steps.  Then the doorbell rings.  It was our neighbor.  She brought an almost lifesize stuffed pony for the children.  She said, "I have something for you - you probably don't want it. Maybe I should have called before I brought it over."  I, like the OP, was born in a household where you're always gracious and without a spine - I had no words for this woman.  Now we have this dopey, huge pony and I have no idea how to get it out of the house without her seeing it in the trash.

Recently, she brought over a canopy bed for our daughter (who's still in a crib).   The bed is nice, but not at all our taste or in keeping with the "theme" of our home which is antiques.  Our neighbor literally left this bed and all it's piece on our porch one afternoon.  She doesn't want it - but neither do we.  Since it was given to us and essentially abandoned on our porch, does this mean we're able to  do with it what we please?  Like sell it to a consignment shop? 

I'm sorry if I hijacked your thread.  This is a topic that definitely hit home!

Lynn2000

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2013, 10:30:32 PM »
I think if someone just leaves stuff on your porch, you are totally in the clear to throw it away or donate it without even letting it pass through the house. Maybe identify some good places to take stuff in advance, so you won't be trying to figure out where you can dispose of electronics while you are also angry about the electronics being left on your porch. Then if the giver asks you about it, you should feel free to politely tell them what you did with it, and even offer them the name of the place so that next time they want to "get rid of" something, they can just take it directly there themselves (hint, hint).

Firmness is the key, I have found. I remember when my grandmother died, people went over to clean out her house, and when I stopped by the whole dining table was filled with little knickknacks. My dad said, "Take whatever you want!" so I picked up one little thing that I remembered from visiting her house. He's like, "That's it? That's all you want?" Then he took me over to the garage and showed me how the entire 1.5 car space was filled, floor to ceiling, with boxes. "This is what we have to get rid of," he said pointedly. I was like, "Nope, I'm only taking this one thing. Thanks!"

If you're certain it's junk, you are fine to just refuse it outright, repeatedly, with a smile. With some people, or some loads, it might be easier/more prudent to look through the stuff in front of the giver, and take out one small thing that you actually want, or want most, and give the rest back. Act like you thought that's what they wanted you to do. (Then of course you can throw the small thing away later if you want.) If people were bringing over "old family stuff," I know that I would at least want to look through it, and see if there were any old photos/documents/etc. that I wanted to keep, rather than just refusing the whole thing sight unseen.

Fundamentally people should not be imposing their junk on you. They should only give you gifts if they think you would really like it, and not just because you're the first breathing person they met after deciding to get rid of it. Or because they like the pleasure of buying it better than keeping it. So it is completely polite to refuse 100% to let things into your house. I am just a more indirect person, so these are some more indirect methods that might help you. :)
~Lynn2000