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Not So Embraceable You

My husband and I live on a greatly reduced income from a few years ago. During better times, we had acquired an extensive library for my hobbies as well as for spirituality matters. My social circle includes many who share not only our interests, but also our spiritual beliefs.

6 months ago, I had guests to our home, for New Year’s Eve. We watched movies and enjoyed our time.
One female expressed interest in a recovery fellowship that I have the literature for. I offered to show her the books, and she took them with her, without my knowledge or permission.  I attempted many times to get the books back from her, and there was no real effort made on her part to return my property. I was offered many excuses, and while I did not believe them, I could not take any legal action.

When I was hospitalized for a surgery, she promised to return the books as soon as possible.
I was on restrictions after the surgery, so I could not meet with her to discuss the situation, or to diffuse retaliatory behavior.  When I next spoke to her, I was reprimanded for leaving the hospital, as well as for not being there when she showed up, 4 days after my surgery.

Shortly thereafter, I decided to just replace the books out of my limited budget because it was obvious I would not have my property returned to me, and the female in question soon left our social circle after taking property from our group in a similar fashion. The books cost more than I could afford to replace, but I was able to do so over several weeks.

Last week, I was in a local shop, where one of my friends works. It is a second hand store, and the culture of this shop is for those who wish to come in and visit for as long as we are not interrupting the business of the shop.  The female who took my property came in, and insisted on a hug. I gave the hug, rather than cause anyone discomfort, and said little other than pleasantries of the day.  I was fuming inside, however, and had a brief talk with my friend after the female left. At this late date, there is nothing I can do to get my property, or our groups property returned to us, and so I am turning this into a lesson learned.

Now for my question, I have since stopped mentioning my library to anyone, and have decided to no longer lend my books, either with or without my permission. I have moved my books to another area of my home, so that they are not available for anyone to see.

What is the most polite way to enforce this policy, as I do not wish to offend, or be offensive, also, what is the best way to greet this person who has no boundaries, or respect for others’ property. I have no illusions about her returning to my home, yet my anger persists. 0604-12

As for how to enforce a policy, you simply say, “No, I do not lend out my books.”   There is an obligation of your friends and family to not insist they have a right to your possessions and to honor your “No”.

As for how to deal with despicable people one would rather not have much contact with, I think the main point is to be what I call “professionally civil”.  You can give a business-like greeting such as “Hello”, and even superficially discussing inane topics like the weather.  What you do not do is allow them into your head or heart or allow them access to the personal details of your life.  You discuss nothing of substantive content as they are not worthy of that kind of relational intimacy.   It is very possible to relate to someone you dislike by acting like you and that person are in a business interaction.  You behave civilly, you get the job done with no drama, and you do not let business interfere with your personal life.   I use this approach very often.


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  • Rebecca July 23, 2012, 7:44 am

    I also learned the hard way not to lend things. A couple of years ago my boss at the time had a son who was auditioning for a musical. I mentioned that I had the film on DVD, and she asked to borrow it. The audition came and went and though I asked several times, she would always “forget” to return the DVD. A few months later I was laid off from that job. I never got my movie back.

  • Cherry July 23, 2012, 8:05 am

    What happened here was theft, pure and simple. Your “friend” took the books without your knowledge and permission, and then refused to return them when confronted. Personally, I would have threatened her with bringing the police into the matter, and if that still hadn’t convinced her to return the books, I really would have called the police in. I’m sorry that you lost your property, and advise that if the books are fairly valuable, you should consider having a valuation and inventory done. This will make legal action much easier if this should happen again, as you’ll be able to proove the book belongs to you (they usually make a note of distinguishing features, such as wear and tear on the book)

  • --Lia July 23, 2012, 8:06 am

    When she steps in for the hug, you step aside and say “I’m not feeling too friendly towards you ever since you stole my books. If you’d like to return them, drop them by my house and leave them on the porch.”

  • CaffeineKatie July 23, 2012, 8:40 am

    In business, you often have to interact with people–for the good of the company employing you. I would be very tempted to simply say, in a low voice, “I don’t hug people who steal from me.” Her behavior is no secret, since you discussed it with your friend after she left and she took things from your whole group so I’m sure they have discussed it as well. And if she tries to escalate, walk away.

    And, no, I don’t blame you for not loaning books. I don’t do it either, for much the same reason. And used copies of so many books are available online for very low prices, so I don’t feel guilty about saying no.

  • Fiona July 23, 2012, 8:54 am

    OP, I feel for you. I only hug family and very close friends. I feel it’s too intimate for casual friends, and it must be sheer torture to hug someone who makes your skin crawl! Unfortunately there are few good options in this situation. Perhaps you could offer a handshake early on, or say “Oh, I’m sorry I’m just not a huggy person.”

    I maintain a professionally civil relationship with the gossip-mongers in my workplace. It can be hard to do sometimes because there’s no visible reward for good behaviour. Instead, the benefit of being professionally civil is invisible; it lies in all the headaches and heartaches that are now prevented.

  • Puzzled July 23, 2012, 9:05 am

    It took several times of not having books returned before I learned not to lend them. However, I never had anyone actually steal the books from me, which is essentially what this woman did. Now, I have no problem telling anyone that I do not lend my books to anyone.

    As far as accepting a hug from her, I would never have allowed her to touch me under any circumstances. Civility in public perhaps, but no invasion of personal space allowed ever.

  • twik July 23, 2012, 9:09 am

    It’s good the OP has decided not to lend things “with or without permission”, because borrowing someone’s things without permission is called stealing, I believe.

    Considering this woman is a thief, I would not have accepted a hug, at least not without checking if she’d lifted my wallet afterwards. Unfortunately, people like this thrive by expecting other people to avoid “causing discomfort”.

  • NotThumper July 23, 2012, 9:36 am

    I think I am a little confused, why couldn’t the OP take legal action? From what I gather this person took property from OP’s home without permission, she stole the books, and that IS something you could act legally on.
    Is there something else I am missing?

  • Decimus July 23, 2012, 9:54 am

    There are several things I don’t understand here. If someone takes your property without knowledge or permission, that’s theft. Why not notify the police? Homeowners insurance also springs to mind, but that’s a legal issue. Really, though, if someone steals your property, why not give them the cut direct?

    Why, for that matter, are you concerned with not causing this woman discomfort? Saying “I’m sorry, I don’t hug thieves” would be polite. So would simply ignoring this woman (that IS the cut direct). It may not be “nice” but nice does not equal polite.

  • Cat July 23, 2012, 10:04 am

    I do not believe that anyone to whom I have lended a book has ever returned it, and that includes a leather, engraved with my name, Bible my father gave me that I loaned to a religion teacher at my school.

    Now I simply say that I don’t loan my books but perhaps the local library may have a copy.

  • SJP July 23, 2012, 10:23 am

    She walked out of your home and took your personal belongings with her, without your knowledge or consent. What I don’t understand is how there no legal recourse for getting this thief to return books she stole from you? A registered letter from a lawyer would probably be enough to get her to step up and do the right thing.

    Why are the others in your social circle sitting idly by while she takes off with their things as well? Of course she feels entitled to other people’s property when no one has ever stopped her before. I say talk to a lawyer and get that legal letter drawn up the sooner the better before she fences the stolen goods and the cash disappears!

    Even if you can’t pursue her in criminal court you should be able to in civil court. She never denied taking the books so she should be held accountable for her actions and be made to repay you the cost that went into replacing them. There’s no other way she’ll get the message through her thick skull that other people’s property is not hers for the taking.

  • gramma dishes July 23, 2012, 10:28 am

    Yes, when people ask if you can borrow their books you can certainly say no. But in this case, if I read the story correctly, the woman took the books from the OP with neither her permission nor her knowledge.

    I think sometimes we are okay with worrying a little less about “etiquette” when someone blatantly steals from us. I would have pursued it. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten police involved, but I certainly would have insisted that she return the books and after sufficient time had passed without that happening, I would have spread the word to our other friends so that they could perhaps be spared the same unpleasant experience.

  • Leigh July 23, 2012, 10:55 am

    I would have called the police and reported the theft. It doesn’t cost you anything to do so, and it might encourage this woman to stop stealing from her friends.

  • Ashley July 23, 2012, 11:05 am

    I also fear lending out books because I am always afraid they will wind up in the hands of someone who will treat them less gently than I do. I always get them back, but whether or not they are in the same shape is questionable. I’ve taken to loaning them only to people I know will treat them as well as I do.

  • Lola July 23, 2012, 11:33 am

    Folks don’t treat books like the valuable objects they are. I’ve had books “walk out” of my home without my consent or knowledge, too. I’m sure that the thief(ves?) wouldn’t think of taking another object without asking and would be horrified to be thought a thief.

  • Ripple July 23, 2012, 11:54 am

    Suppose you loaned books to a friend before, they were returned promptly, and now you don’t want to lend to anyone so as to have a standard policy. If they ask why you won’t lend anything any more, just say that you had a bad experience, you know it wasn’t their fault, but now you no longer loan books to anyone.

    As for someone you don’t want to hug, just stick your hand out to shake before they get close enough to hug. If they keep trying to move in closer, step back and keep your hand out. You should not feel any discomfort keeping them at arm’s length.

  • barb July 23, 2012, 12:56 pm

    One of the best ways to get out of doing something you don’t want to do – “Oh, I did it in the past and had such problems…..” which you need not go into. “And now I have vowed to NEVER do it again.”

    And if the other person says something like, “I promise I would bring the books back.” —- “That is just what the previous person said, and I never got them back.”

    Or you could just stick with “No.”

  • Meghan July 23, 2012, 1:05 pm

    I also have had to adopt a no-lend policy except for a select few people who have a proven track record of returning books. I just moved and, in going through my books, discovered that there are at least half a dozen well-loved books that I lent to people and that we’re never returned. I’ve actually got a list in my phone so I can repurchase them when I stumble across them at used book stores. Instead of lending books, I have a shelf that I call my “recommendation shelf.” If people would like a new book to read I point them to a book on the shelf as a suggestion, but allow them to purchase it or borrow it from the public library themselves. As a dedicated library patron myself, it seems to go over fine when I suggest that avenue. But I’ve also found that many people prefer their e-readers and are happy to download the books themselves. I find most people new little explanation for a no-lend policy for a personal library. They get it. And it’s not like they can’t get their own copy if they really want one.

  • Library Diva July 23, 2012, 1:19 pm

    I have a similar policy, and I often add that I have a policy against borrowing them from other people, too. Books have a way of blending in with others’ possessions. I am ashamed to admit that several books belonging to friends I’ve fallen out of touch with sit on my shelves.

    But OP is talking about a whole different thing, and I don’t know what to say, other than that I’m sorry it happened to you. In college, I had a “friend” who used to hang out at my dorm room fairly often. I genuinely liked the guy; he was tangentially part of my social circle and I did him many kindnesses, including letting him stay on my cot one night after we’d been at a party. He came over one time, and I found several items of mine missing, including my wallet and some guitar tabs I’d been working on. I was furious, and was even angrier when I found out some other people had had similar experiences with this guy. He’d done one girl I knew out of a large amount of money, and she’d been trying to confront him for weeks. I helped engineer it as my revenge. He got the drift that he wasn’t welcome to hang out with us anymore.
    Several months later, I learned that he’d tried to take advantage of THE WRONGEST group of people and that he was hiding out of town, away from some violent drug dealers. OP, ultimately your backstabbing friend’s behavior will catch up with her, too. Maybe not so dramatically as in the case of my backstabbing friend. But one day, she’ll look around her house full of pilfered items and wonder why she’s always alone. Take comfort in the fact that at least this fate won’t be yours.

  • Snarkastic July 23, 2012, 1:46 pm

    I’m not sure what the lesson is, since you never lent her the book in the first place! If you knew this person to be untrustworthy and you STILL went ahead and lent her your books, THEN it would be a lesson learned. However, I would say you just got burned without warning, OP. Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Joanna July 23, 2012, 3:00 pm

    I too have a large library and a generous nature — but I’ve learned the hard way not to lend to anyone. That’s all I say to people. They are my books; I don’t need to give any more reason than that.

    Regarding the hug given in the interest of politeness, I have to say you’re a better person than me! Considering this person basically STOLE, not BORROWED, your expensive books, I can’t say I’d be as worried about offending or causing a scene as you.

  • josie July 23, 2012, 3:23 pm

    Send her a bill for the value of the books….they might re-appear. Friends like that are better in the past tense.

  • Aje July 23, 2012, 5:46 pm

    I remember during my high school graduation our superintendent wanted to hug everyone as they went to get their diploma. I had never even met her, even though I knew who she was. I thought a handshake would be more than appropriate, but when I tried during rehersal I was repremanded.

    I understand that some people are more touchy feely. I´m that way myself around my friends… but strangers, especially strangers who politely say, ¨Sorry, I´m just more comfortable with a good firm handshake,¨ shouldn´t be repremanded.

    And good for you OP. There is only one friend I have who I will lend books to because everyone else either doesn´t return them in a timely matter or at all!

  • badkitty July 23, 2012, 7:49 pm

    I’ve faced the “things that belong to me stolen from my home by someone I know” situation, and I did contact the police. I was told that I could file a report that my items were stolen, but they could not confront the thief because she’d been invited. Apparently, it’s not “really” stealing unless you break in. She had been welcome in our home, even had a key for emergencies, and was quite up-front with us about having taken this thing: she felt she was entitled to it, and that was that. Clearly, we had the locks changed and are no longer friends with that person or anyone who defends her actions, but the police were no help at all. I asked the officer what it would take for her to be prosecuted or for us to get our item back, and I was told that she would basically have to turn herself in and hand over the item, admitting that it wasn’t hers and she’d known it wasn’t hers but that she took it anyway. And even then, she’d probably only get a fine.

    OP, I sympathize… but do NOT let this person touch you again, and if she tries to do so, inform her that you will not be hugging the person who stole your books. Ever. No point having her return them at this point, since they’ve been replaced and the originals are probably damaged. Even if they’re still in perfect condition, the ones that she’s had in her possession have unhappy memories attached and you don’t need that in your home.

  • PLG July 23, 2012, 8:11 pm

    I have an extensive graphic novel (comic book) collection that took me a long time to collect and many of them were quite expensive at the time for what they are ($60 per book). I used to allow close friends to borrow and read them under the express promise that they treat them well, keep them clean and don’t fold the pages or bend the books too far open (this can break stitching and binding glue causing very thin pages to fall out).

    I’m much more wary of it now after 2 people held some of them for extended months with multiple, increasingly lame excuses about why they hadn’t been returned until I pulled out my “Return them by [day or date] or prepare to buy me new ones to replace them.” which scared them into returning them. First time they came back in the same condition I’d lent them in but that person was not allowed to borrow them again, second time not so much… they had stains from spilled drink, pages stuck together from said drink and some had spines broken and pages falling out. That person was decent enough to buy me new copies of the damaged ones, but it left a sour taste in my mouth and sullied the friendship a bit due to added lying. Now I let people read them as long as they stay in my apartment, no more borrowing allowed.

  • Fiona July 23, 2012, 8:56 pm

    twik July 23, 2012 at 9:09 am said:
    “Considering this woman is a thief, I would not have accepted a hug, at least not without checking if she’d lifted my wallet afterwards.”

    HAHAHA! That’s just what I was thinking!

  • Cat Whisperer July 24, 2012, 12:30 am

    People who steal property under the guise of borrowing it are thieves and scum of the earth.

    People who are invited into your home as guests and who use the opportunity to take things without your permission are common thieves and are worse than scum of the earth.

    There is no shame in telling people you do not allow people to borrow your property because you’ve loaned it before and people have stolen from you. The only people who have a problem with that are the people who are potential thieves. And if they’re offended, who cares?

    I also make a point of not asking other people to lend me things. I don’t want to put people in the position of having to refuse.

    Doesn’t it just totally suck when someone who you’ve given your trust to betrays that trust by stealing your property? I sure hope that whatever karmic cooties these people get are doozies. Something really unpleasant. They deserve it.

  • Bint July 24, 2012, 3:26 am

    OP, you’re too kind. She stole from you. I’d probably have said, “Get off me, you thief,” but then I’m not kind to people who come in my house and steal my belongings. I agree with previous posters – don’t let her touch you again, and if she speaks to you, say, “I want my books back. I never said you could have them.”

    I don’t lend my books out. I never get them back (I still have over a thousand…maybe people think I won’t mind missing the odd one?). After buying The Count of Monte Cristo three times, I now just say, “Sorry, I don’t lend them out now – I’ve lost too many.” There are local libraries for this reason.

  • SS July 24, 2012, 7:30 am

    The most simple approach would have been to show up at the “friend’s” house and say “I’m here for my books.”

  • Huh July 24, 2012, 8:04 am

    My ex had a terrible habit of loaning out our DVDs to various friends of his that were never returned. He never understood why I would get furious every time he did this.

  • LovleAnjel July 24, 2012, 9:12 am

    @Huh My husband will lend a DVD in return for borrowing one at the same time, thinking it would make them come back. Often the reverse trade never happens. We’ve lost some good DVDs and gained some not-good-ones that way. (Honey, I love you, but why did you give away Tombstone for an episode of Behind the Music? It makes no sense.) I don’t see it as dishonesty, more as a sort of laziness, where people don’t take the effort to actually get your item back to you. Right now we only lend non-deluxe DVDs of movies we’d rather have on Blu-Ray. The loss would give us an excuse to buy the better version.

  • The Elf July 24, 2012, 11:11 am

    I don’t loan anything I can’t replace. Period.

    But this person didn’t exactly loan out the books – they were taken without permission. Even if that was just a misunderstanding, the “borrower” should have returned them at first insistence.

    It’s hard to avoid a hug – or a handshake – but keeping things at a frosty civil tone ought to get the hint out.

  • Hemi July 24, 2012, 11:13 am

    I haven’t read through the other comments yet so if I am repeating other comments, please excuse me.

    I no longer lend my book, DVD’s, etc. to other people, even those I consider friends. I have lent things in the past and it took forever to get them returned and oft times, they were returned in depreciated condition such as: plastic torn off DVD cover, paper cover describing DVD missing or torn; books with ripped and bent pages, books with severe damage to the spine to the point that pages started to fall out and many, many more types of damage.

    This woman *stole* your materials, period. After all the attempts you made to have your items returned, you had no need to have her invade your personal space as well. I am the type of person who will actually take a step back, hold my hand up in the “stop” gesture and say “no” if someone wants to hug me that I do not want touching me. I don’t think it’s rude; your body is yours and if you don’t want someone else touching you, they need to *respect* that.

    I understand that you did what you did to avoid making a scene at your friend’s place of employment.
    In the future, if you come in contact with this woman again, I see no reason you need to make yourself uncomfortable by allowing her to hug you. Just remain pleasant with your verbal communication but make sure your body language makes it clear that hugs are off-limits.

    Sorry if this is a little rant-like; theives and people who do not respect personal boundaries and insist on touching others drive me crazy.

  • abbey July 24, 2012, 1:10 pm

    OP, as the other commenters have said, this woman did steal from you. Being a friend of Bill, I understand that sometimes you try to believe that the person probably needs to read that literature more than you do right now. Years ago someone new to my group took my the little book I’d been given by an old timer to read from daily. I could replace the little book, but not the inscription the old timer had written to me in the front pages. I tried to accept what had happened as I figured the taker needed those words more than me. Additionally, as I’m a private person in a small town who meets a few towns over, I would not have been comfortable telling the police exactly what book had been taken without my permission. I know my disease is nothing to be ashamed of, but I also know that no matter how much time I have, there is a chance of getting a small minded officer who would just consider it an arguement between people that don’t matter in his line of work.
    I’m also not a huggy person and struggled with that a great deal when I first came into the rooms. I decided “when in Rome” when I was actively doing meetings, but in public I’m just not ok with anyone except maybe my mother hugging me (which she would not do in public anyway). The step aside and saying ” I’m sorry, I’m just not ok with hugging.” while offering a handshake only works in about 80% of situations. Often, I’m hugged before I know what is happening. I find this very weird in business settings….So I usually try to count backwards in my head and give no hug back. It is weird to the hugger, but as the huggie, it is weird to be touched anyway.
    As far as someone who has such dis respect for you, your belongings, and even the message that many ‘groups’ share, the response is just as Lia suggested. The truth is often hard to hear, but that is often what I, as a friend of Bill, really need to hear. =)

  • jena rogers July 24, 2012, 1:12 pm

    @AJE: RE: Mandatory hugs for H.S. graduates during graduation ceremony? Totally inappropriate!!

  • Mabel July 24, 2012, 2:32 pm

    Grr. I stopped loaning out books and DVDs because of two things that happened. One, two friends of mine in college borrowed books from me; one returned it soaked with water, and the other one never returned either the book or any of my phone calls. Two, I loaned a movie that was very hard to find to a coworker, and she also bailed on me, with the DVD. I suspect she took it with her on a family visit and someone there either took it or she lost it and was afraid to face me. I later got another copy as a gift, but she should have offered to pay for it at least.

    I did loan a couple of Harry Potter DVDs to some recent former bosses. But they returned them promptly and without damage. No one else, ever again.

  • lkb July 24, 2012, 2:47 pm

    On the very rare occasions in which I do loan out a book or movie, I put a return address label on the front and back cover (and on the dvd itself) with the note: “Enjoy it all you want, but PLEASE return to (address label).”

    People are clods: Having worked at our local library, I’ve endured many comments from people who laughed off their library fines going to collection agencies. “Really?” they say, “It’s just a book!”
    Yeah, that same book cost the library the same $X it would have cost you.

    I vote the OP do what she needs to get her property back, within reason of course. And don’t give hugs (or anything else (well, maybe a computer virus), to the former friend.

  • Lily July 24, 2012, 5:16 pm

    OP I am sorry your books got stolen.
    Truthfully, the police wouldnt have time to care so theres probably no point and if they did do something it could lead to a whole load of court case hassle.
    Its a shame about the expense, but the books, unlike your friendship, can be replaced.

    Remember, noone ever has the right to hug you if you dont want them to.

  • Kimstu July 24, 2012, 11:22 pm

    badkitty: “I’ve faced the “things that belong to me stolen from my home by someone I know” situation, and I did contact the police. I was told that I could file a report that my items were stolen, but they could not confront the thief because she’d been invited. Apparently, it’s not “really” stealing unless you break in. She had been welcome in our home, even had a key for emergencies, and was quite up-front with us about having taken this thing: she felt she was entitled to it, and that was that. Clearly, we had the locks changed and are no longer friends with that person or anyone who defends her actions, but the police were no help at all.”

    That barefaced swiping was definitely the moral equivalent of theft, but IMO it’s easy to see why the police were quite right not to treat it as a case of LEGAL theft.

    After all, if anybody could formally charge their invited guests with theft any time they wanted, the police would end up dealing with a lot of hotheaded and/or malicious people throwing unjustified accusations around. And even cases like yours and the OP’s where the accusations ARE justified and the friend/guest DID take something without permission while in your home by your own invitation would be a nightmare to resolve in court: it would just come down to a yes-you-did-no-I-didn’t contradiction match.

    Property ownership disputes between family and friends should not be a matter for the police, even when one party is shamelessly abusing their privilege as a friend or family member to take advantage of the other.

  • --Lia July 25, 2012, 4:10 am

    I don’t understand the paragraph about when you were hospitalized. Who reprimanded you for leaving the hospital? Whose and what sort of retaliatory behavior needed to be diffused?

    But more than that, I think a few issues are being confused. There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to lend out your things, and there’s nothing offensive about saying no when asked. “Hey can I borrow this book?” “No, I never lend out my books.” It’s that simple.

    Except your decision not to lend your books seems to be in response to someone who stole your books. That’s what’s not making sense to me.

    Sometimes there’s an advantage to lending books. Great conversations can follow when 2 people have read the same thing. One of my best friendships is the result of a complete stranger asking to borrow a book I was reading. I was so thrilled that someone would be interested in the same esoteric subject I was that I loaned her the books and then suggested she have lunch with me. We’ve been getting together regularly for lunch for years a few years now; we visit at one another’s homes, have met one another’s families, and I’m always glad to see her. (And I got the books back.) I knew I was risking losing my property, but my gamble paid off. There’s a disadvantage too. As others have pointed out, some people will take advantage. That’s always a shame.

    So this is the point where I bring up the question I’ve brought up before. When you’re tempted to do someone a favor, ask yourself: “If this person never did anything for me again, if I loaned this book and never saw it again, would I mind?” I ask myself that question before I give someone so much as a nickel. When I instituted my policy of asking myself that question, I was bitter. I thought I’d never do anyone a favor on spec again. As time went by, however, I realized that a lot of times I didn’t care. So I did the favor, and sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t, and I’m a lot happier.

  • Katie July 25, 2012, 7:54 am

    If this only happened six months ago, I think that this is recent enough to pursue your books! I would probably call at the house and politely say that you were in the area and thought you’d call in to collect the books she ‘borrowed’ at the house party. Even if you’ve replaced them, you are still entitled to get them back!

  • mojo July 25, 2012, 4:34 pm

    My Mother said, “You can’t lend books, only give them away.” How right she was.

  • grumpy_otter July 26, 2012, 2:09 pm

    Everyone else has covered the etiquette of the situation–I am confused about why OP makes a point of stating at the beginning that there is a reduced income now, but then points out that she was apparently able to afford to replace the books.

    I thought the story was going to end with “And I can’t afford to replace them.”

    I’m not defending the theft, although Mojo and Mom are right about books, just wondering why finances had anything to do with this story.

  • RP July 27, 2012, 10:56 am

    I agree with jena rodgers. The superintendent *requiring* the students to hug them is just CREEPY.

    @grumpy_otter – I think the OP just wanted to get across that the books weren’t cheap so it was a strain on their finances to replace them.

    @OP – I’m also wondering why you’re worried about causing this thief discomfort. You are not obligated to be nice to her at all so don’t worry about it. Also, since she’s apparently stolen from others in your social group you might want to consider at least asking the police if there’s anything you can do. I’m not sure if any of you feel strongly enough to take it to small claims court but that’s also an option.

  • Hannah July 28, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Isn’t this still a form of theft? Then you should have every right to take legal action along with the other people in your group who had their thing’s stolen. I’m not sure I understand why you can’t bring the police into this situation, or at least tell her you will.

  • Enna July 30, 2012, 11:36 am

    I think if the police route didn’t work, then it would be a civil case. Then I wouldn’t invite that person around my house again. @ Kimstu did you try the civil route? Sometimes the threat of police and a solicter’s letter can be enough to make people think about their behaviours.

  • IKE January 20, 2013, 7:31 am

    I was browsing the internet on how to say “No” to lending DVDs, as we have friends coming for dinner to whom I do not want to lend DVDs and who I am fairly sure they will ask for it.

    I had previously lent them a boxset of DVDs (that I had never even played before, so they were in mint condition) and even after warning them of how careful I am with my DVDs (and how I expect the same care to be taken by others) had them returned in a condition that not even the most worn DVDs I own have. I explained this to them, trying not to be too harsh, since one of them has a degree of intellectual disability, and asked for nothing in return, but explained the best I could that this was the one chance I gave in good faith and that was it.

    Nevertheless, they keep asking if I can lend them this or that other DVD.

    After reading much on this subject today, I think that I will set my lending policy to something like:
    Public policy: I do not lend.
    Private policy: I do not lend (when someone asks to borrow). I only lend if I have a specific interest to share with this or that other person a book /a movie or show / a game, etc… and I will only offer if after discussing the subject, that person shows genuine interest in reading/watching/… And even in these occasions, if I can foresee in the near future the occasion of buying this or that for them (birthday, christmas, etc…) and it is within budget, I would go for that option, to also support the author.