Something Borrowed

                                             … And I’m Still Blue
                                                          By Jeff Salter

            Well, actually, it should say, “Something LOANED … and I’m still blue.”
            I have many examples, but it’s been a hectic week, so I’ll just explain one.

Military gear
            One of my cherished possessions was an Army helmet liner which my Dad ( who NEVER shopped) bought for me – even made a special trip to the surplus store – when I was just a little tad.  Somewhat later, as a teen, I also bought a pistol belt, with a first aid pouch, and a G.I. canteen cover, in which I carried a German army WW2 canteen.
            Well those treasures were loaned to a friend who wanted to borrow them to film an 8mm ‘war movie.’  I was happy to loan them and never doubted that I’d get them back … certainly before he left town at the end of that summer.  But I married and moved away, the friend went to another state for college — life got in the way.  Whenever I’d stop and think about those loaned items, I was not only disappointed that I never got them back — I was HURT that my friend did not value his verbal contract … or our friendship (apparently). 
            Years later, after I figured I’d waited long enough – and realized that I could get a small fortune for by selling those items on eBay – I set about to locate this old pal.  Couldn’t reach him directly since I didn’t even know what state he was in. But I wrote his Mom a letter asking if she happened to know the whereabouts of those items [and I described them in detail].  The mom was civil, but had no clue … those items did not ring a bell with her.  It galled me somewhat that she didn’t even apologize for her son’s breach of etiquette in not returning what I’d loaned him.

 What I learned
            From this experience – among many others – I’ve learned that anything I really value too highly to part with … ought NOT to be loaned.  Not to anybody, no matter who they are or why they need it.  This stance has shocked a few people … since many friends (or relatives) apparently expect me to be willing to loan ANYthing — regardless of its value.
            I’ve also learned that sometimes you have to specify:  “Yes, you may borrow this _____, but I’m loaning it to you alone.  You do NOT have permission to loan it to anybody else.”  Yeah, I’ve gotten the eye-roll for this position, but I’ve learned the hard way that people are often very willing to loan something that doesn’t even belong to them in the first place.  Somehow, for those folks, since it’s out of their hands, they feel the transaction is pretty much as complete as if they’d already returned it to the original owners.  Guess what:  the third party feels absolutely NO obligation to return Items XYZ to Original Owner A, since they borrowed XYZ from Borrower B.  Follow?

 What I gained
            After I finally realized my treasured (and valuable) military gear was lost to me forever, I set about to replace it, as nearly as I could, by purchasing like items on eBay.  And I did.
            And thereby I began a years long quest to acquire an entire collection of WW2 memorabilia which I used for several month-long displays at various branches of the library system where I worked for many years.  They were very well received … and I also collected items from WW1, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.  Having spoken with some of the veterans who viewed my displays, I feel quite gratified that it was worth the expense, time, and effort to set up those exhibits.
            In fact, I met one old guy who was a veteran of a howitzer unit who fought during a critical battle shortly after D-Day.  He invited me over to his house to see some of his own WW2 items.  Then he asked me to TAKE them.  I said, “I can’t accept these … they should go to your family.”  He replied, sadly, but quite unemotionally:  “Nobody in my family wants them.”  To which I replied:  “In that case, I’ll be honored to accept them.  And whenever I display any of your items, I’ll include a card which identifies them as yours.”  And I have.

 What else
            Other valuables I’ve loaned are a box full of treasured comic books from the 1950s and 60s — loaned to a friend of my son.  When the comics didn’t come back, I had my son contact him and get back the box.  Well, most of it.  A few dozen treasured items did not make the trip.  [Yes, I had a list because I’d recently compared my holdings with my brother’s collection.]  When I contacted that individual by letter to ask what became of those other comics, he did not even bother to reply.  Later, I contacted him again … still no reply.
            Refer back to my rule above:  if the items are truly valuable to you, do NOT loan them!

 Question:
            What have YOU loaned that you never got back?  How did you deal with it?  What were your feelings?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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22 Responses to Something Borrowed

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I’m with you, Jeff. I’d rather not loan things to anyone. Likewise, I’d rather not ask to borrow things as well. There is a certain responsibility and the margin of error I’d just assume avoid.

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I completely agree, Jenn. And, surprisingly, I have known people who practically INSISTED that I borrow ABC from them … even after I tell them OUTRIGHT that I won’t be able to get to it for a long time and it will be difficult to remember who to return it to. Wouldn’t you think that was sufficient warning? Apparently not. Because some people have insisted on loaning me a book, or record, or video … even after that speech.

      Like

  2. tonettejoyce says:

    It seems that if you lend anything,it should be only with the things which you are willing to lose.I guess a saint could say that applies to everything, but that isn’t realistic to most of us.My mother would give to whomever asked, and although she seldom ask the person for the item(s) back, it hurt her. She held a quiet grudge,(to the loanee), but I would hear about it….for ever.
    Another gripe I have is when the borrower disregards etiquette and even requests,(demands), that they alone have use of said item, and even if it comes back,it comes back damaged.Grrrrrrrr.
    I am sorry about the ones that meant so much to you; that is nice of you to give the other man credit for his collection.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yeah, for some people to have an attitude that we are OBLIGATED to loan them whatever they ask for —- that gets my goat.
      I have often thought of that man who donated his property. While I was still in that city, I had some of his items in at least two of my displays … and I notified him each time where my exhibit was and how long it would be up. I think he missed one of them because he was sick, but I think He got to see one display in which his items were featured.

      Like

  3. Lindsay says:

    I aree with you Jeff about loaning things out. I never have nor will I ever. Anything I collect is precious to me.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      And it baffles me how many people seem positively stunned that anyone could value their own possessions that way.
      If I have an extra of something, I might freely GIVE it away, or sell it, whatever. But for a ‘loan’ to be just a way for somebody to take what’s mine with a clear conscience … that’s stupid.

      Like

  4. Laurie Ryan says:

    That’s so sad you lost those treasures, Jeff. What a way to turn it around with the WW2 items, though. Karma payed you back, even if the “friend” didn’t. And, while I’m not an eye for an eye kind of gal, I do enjoy the occasional thought about how Karma paid these two pilferers back. 🙂

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yes, it’s quite possible — maybe even probable — that I never would have started ‘collecting’ militaria (beyond those few items I already had) … if not for my quest to replace the items I’d loaned away. And I have had several warm moments as a result of my displays … which have made all the expense, effort and time seem worthwhile.

      Like

  5. Meg Mims says:

    I hear ya, Jeff. I had to learn the hard way — and the only person I share with is my only daughter, who will end up with everything anyway.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      That sounds like a safe & solid arrangement, Meg.
      And we also hope, as parents, that our children will value the things we’ve collected. If not exactly as much as we did, at least to have an awareness of what it meant to us and properly handle it if it must be liquidated.

      Like

  6. Carol Todd says:

    I share your feelings, Jeff. I don’t like to lend items, even “non-treasured” ones, as they so often go missing or just aren’t returned. I have enough things that go out of here “on loan” to my grandchildren! About the only things I have ever loaned out are some of my books – and most of those were the replaceable ones. The other problem I have with lending items is that I forget about them. So does the borrower. You can see where that is going…Best to follow the old advice: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Another treasure I’ve let slip through my fingers: A relative loaned (with my permission) a book on the 101st Airborne Division during WW2 to a man who served in that unit. Sadly, the book was not returned before that relative died. And my efforts to track down the man who borrowed the book have failed. Another relative thought she knew who it was, but before she could pin it down, she also died. All that’s true. And I don’t mean to equate the loss of that book with the loss of those two family members. I’m just saying that the information died with them … so I’ll never know who borred my book.
      And certainly will never have it returned.

      Like

  7. jeff7salter says:

    Sorry, folks … this is my first chance to reply to anything. We’ve been tied up all morning with VBS.

    Like

  8. tonettejoyce says:

    We forgive you! LOL!

    Like

  9. jeff7salter says:

    BTW, since some of you have keyed on the man I mentioned, here’s a bit about him:
    SSgt. Clifton A. Farrar U.S. Army, WW II
    European Theater of Operations, 1942 – 1945
    First enlisted in 1936; re-enlisted in 1942. Trained in the U.S. & at two bases in England.
    Assigned to a “Cannon Company” in the 116th Infantry Regiment [29th Infantry Division].
    Landed at Normandy; in combat operations which included St. Lô (France).

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  10. tonettejoyce says:

    Fascinating.One of my cousins showed up at the reunion with a couple of albums his mother had put together with all sorts of things, esp. cards, letters , clippings and photos from her husband and our uncles from WWII in EuropeIt included a very touching poem written by our Army chaplain uncle after seeing a great deal of action.I had no idea that that uncle ever wrote poetry.

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  11. tonettejoyce says:

    That cousin is THE one who should have it all…he is our archivist…I ran in to the local WalMart in NC, though, and grabbed a package of CD’s to hand to him to make copies for me.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      You are wise: Always have the archivist make a copy. I have a 1st cousin who has become the archivist of my family in a sense and he lost tons of material in Hurricane Katrina when the water rose some dozen feet or more from Back Bay to his back porch.
      He lived, then, in N. Biloxi. So he scrambled around to make copies of photos and such that the other relatives had, to start a new digital database.

      Like

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