… 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.
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.
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!
What have YOU loaned that you never got back? How did you deal with it? What were your feelings?