It has become quite apparent to me over the years that nobody will ever value our own belongings the way that we will. Whether it is respect for our home, car or that cute little black dress we loan a friend, it would seem that if it doesn't belong to them, it is (in many cases) treated as such, 'someone else's stuff'.
My parents taught me to respect other's property and as such, I always do my very best to return items promptly and in the same (if not better) condition than when they were given to me.
Here are some general tips that will keep you ahead of the game and thinking about how to properly care for the property of others.
Respecting What Isn't Yours
1. Borrowing Clothing-If you are ever loaned any garments, do have them laundered or dry cleaned professionally after use prior to returning them. That is the least you can do since your friend paid the price of purchasing the piece that you just wore. If you stain or damage the item in any way, be prepared to compensate the other person for the item. Don't try to pretend you didn't notice what happened. Be upfront, your friend will respect you for your honesty, even if they are a bit miffed at the time.
Back in high school a friend of mine was walking home from my place one night and it had become chilly. She asked if she could borrow a sweater. I gave her one of my newer sweaters that I had recently got for Christmas and she agreed to return it the next time we saw each other. A week had gone by and my new sweater was seen on one of her close friends (we went to the same school). I found it she had then loaned it to her friend who liked my sweater but she never mentioned it was mine. Needless to say, not only did she not fess up to loaning out my sweater, we later fell out of friendship for other reasons and I never got it back.
2. Just Visiting-While visiting in someones home, cottage or boat, it is never appropriate to put your feet up on furniture and get comfortable unless your host encourages you to do so. It's also important to respect their privacy-never snoop in medicine cabinets, drawers or kitchen cabinets without first being instructed to do retrieve something. When it comes to your arrival, always knock or ring the bell, never walk in unless you are given the okay. Always use a coaster for drinks and a napkin. If you spill anything in someone else's home it is best not to try and hide it-inform the host immediately and apologize profusely. They would best know how to handle water on their wood floors or red wine on their light colored upholstery. Do offer to clean up what you have damaged and if need be, payment may be in order. After all, this is not your home and you are responsible for your actions.
A good friend of mine confessed to me that certain friend's don't respect her stuff. A couple who regularly attends her parties knows of their no-shoes policy (it's the same one we have in our own home) and yet instead of these guests taking off their shoes temporarily, they left them on to walk through to the back patio, traipsing over her one-of-a kind rug brought home from a memorable trip. She had asked a few times and then resigned to the fact that they just didn't 'get it'.
3. Car Pooling- You can see the entire post I wrote on carpool etiquette for a full rundown, but as it pertains to spending time in someone else's car, here are a few important tips. Always wear your seat belt, do not ever eat or drink in someones car unless they give you the green light, never change the driver's radio station unless they've asked you to do so, avoid tracking dirt, gravel or the like into the vehicle and be careful opening and closing the door as to not ding the door. Always err on the side of gentleness-there is no need to slam the door unless it's a heavy door that requires it, the same holds true for the trunk. Be sure to offer some money if someone is driving you around town, to help cover the cost of gas and wear & tear on the car.
4. Borrowing a Car- If you are borrowing someone else's car, drive with the utmost safety in mind. Don't change their pre-programmed radio station or switch out their CD's for yours which could become scratched. Filling up the gas tank back to where it started from is the least you can do. You may even want to fill it up for the person who was kind enough to loan you the car, or instead take it for a touchless car wash to show your appreciation. Be sure to remove any trash or items that you brought into the car.
5. Books, CD's and DVD's-If someone has loaned you some of their media, be sure to return it scratch-free (or free from highlighter and dog-eared corners) and in a timely manner. Books are probably one of the most highly shared items with the borrower often forgetting that they have them. If you are the one loaning your books be sure to have a nameplate sticker, address label or pen you name into the inside cover or pages so the borrower remembers who they acquired it from. It's always far better to return something before someone has to ask for it-3 weeks is a good rule of thumb for media items unless you've already made other arrangements. This timeframe also applies to most other borrowd items.
How about you? Have you ever loaned something to someone and never got it back or received it in a lesser condition upon its return?Maybe you were pleasantly surprised by the wonderful state it was returned in?
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Thanks for reading!