My mother recently told me the story about an old stool that we have at home.
My parents acquired the stool when they were newly married and had just moved into their first apartment together in an old suburb. The apartment came with a few odds and ends of furniture, including an old wooden stool with an adjustable seat. The stool was initially used as a replacement step ladder as my parents painted the apartment.
A friend of my parents came by to visit, noticed the stool and asked if she could have the stool once they were finished painting. Seeing as they didn’t have any particular plans for the stool, my parents agreed.
About a week later, another friend dropped by and immediately on seeing the stool asked my parents, “Do you know what is the most expensive item in this room?” and explained to them that the stool was in fact a valuable antique.
My parents later called their other friend to apologize, letting her know that they had to back out of the promise to give her the stool as they had discovered it was very valuable.
The friend’s response?
“Yes, I know, that’s why I asked for it in the first place!” 1207-10
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Sounds like a valuable friend.
I disagree with those who fault the poster’s parent’s for reneging on the agreement to give the stool to the “friend”. When they found out that it was valuable, they apologized and politely told her that they would not give her the stool. That’s all that etiquette demands. It does not demand that you allow yourself to be fleeced when you find out you’ve been tricked by someone you thought you could trust.
I know this post is over a month old, but I’m new to this site, am loving it, and this story reminded me of something I saw on the PBS program “Antiques Roadshow” that totally rubbed me the wrong way.
A couple bought a house from a family who left behind a dining-room chandelier. Shortly after the sale was final, the previous owners called the new owners claiming to have changed their minds, they wanted the chandelier back–no explicit reason given. Although the new owners had their own chandelier that they intended to install, they refused to return the left-behind one, instead choosing to gift it to their son and daughter-in-law. Because the chandelier was too big for the son and DIL’s dining room, they had to have the chandelier shortened, at which point they became aware of a Limoges watermark.
Flash forward to the day of the show, and it turns out it’s the lowest of the low-quality Limoges, and worth only a “few hundred dollars,” which is what any comparable size or style chandelier would run you today. The DIL says to the appraiser “Well that explains why [the previous owners of the house] would leave it.”
Here’s the video of the appraisal: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200901A44.html
In this case, I found it kind of vindicating that the chandelier-mongers got their comeuppance…I found myself imagining a poor old lady who sold her home and in the confusion, forgot about her sentimentally valuable imitation-Louis XIV chandelier. I guess my point is that once a desire for money comes between people, nothing good happens–way I see it, the parents in this situation either wanted the stool or they wanted their friend to have it, *also* the friend was sneaky.