Borrowing Things from People from the South

When I was growing up in the South in Georgia, we would borrow just about anything such as tools, dishes, cars, etc. Instead of buying a whole bunch of stuff you would rarely use, we would locate someone in the neighborhood that might have what we needed for a short time. In true Southern fashion, we would readily allow others to borrow what they needed from us.

This does not seem to be the case these days, as evidence by the copious amount of power tools in my garage. We have a two-car garage with an extra room on the back. We can not even get ONE of our cars in the garage due to the massive amounts of “man toys” we currently own! I would give you a hundred bucks if you could identify one tool that my husband DOES NOT own. (This excludes the “trailer park alley” that exists behind my garage with every piece of rusty scrap metal from years of, “I may need that one day.” From my husband)

When you borrowed something from someone from the South, there were certain rules and expectations of the borrower. One, you return the item in a timely manner, say, when you were done with it. Two, and most importantly, you returned the item in better shape than when you borrowed it. For instance, if you borrow someone’s car, you would return it with a full tank of gas. That is called “having manners”. If you borrow a dish or a tool, clean it up before you give it back.

If you broke what you borrowed, either fix it or replace it as best you can. And for the love of heaven, do not lose it! Or, at least, when people would not return our stuff they would “claim” they lost it.

If you think that if you borrow something and keep it for an extended period of time that it “becomes yours”, you are gravely mistaken. Rarely do we Southerners forget that you have something that belongs to us. I can not tell you how many times my husband and I have talked about a neighbor and there is a comment made about what the person has of ours that has not yet been returned. Example, “You know, I saw Bill today and he was telling me about how work is stressing him out.” My husband will reply, “Really, maybe he could take some down time and look for that screwdriver he borrowed from me 6 months ago.” Now, we may not say anything directly to Bill, but every time we talk about him the screwdriver comes up. I can’t say that I am much better, though.

I am not against loaning things to people, but I do have some things that I will not let others borrow. I will not loan out anything that I will get too upset about if I do not get it back.  This way I will not have to talk smack about you if you forget to return what I loaned you.

I also like to be aware of the “frame of reference” of the person I let borrow from me. By this I mean, do you know from previous experience, how timely the person will return what they borrowed from you? Have you heard others tell you about experiences with certain people borrowing from them? Do you know anyone that you think may not bring back what they borrowed from you?

Case and point. I had a male friend, whom we will call Ryan, who wanted to borrow a music CD that I loved. He promised that he would make a copy and give it back to me. So, against my better judgment, I loaned him the CD with clear instructions to return it to me. The CD was from the band The Charms. This was a local band that only played in small bars and sold their CD’s at events. It was not like I could go to Amazon and buy it. (And, this was long before Amazon existed.)

A few weeks later, I see Ryan and ask him about the CD. He states he “forgot” to make a copy and would get it back to me. Remember, he wanted to “borrow” it, it was not a gift. I began to see that I had made a mistake. So, I wait.

Several more weeks go by and no CD. I see Ryan and he always had some sort of excuse for not returning the CD. He seemed to think this was no big deal, but he is a guy after all, no offense. I tried to remind him that he could attend the next concert for the band and buy his own CD. This had no effect on him at all. He just stared at me like I had food on my face. (I might have.)

Eventually, I realized that I was not going to get my CD back. I had to take action.

So, I called my “bestie”. She knew Ryan well. I tell her about the CD and my attempts to recover it from Ryan. Her response, “good luck.” Dang it, that was not what I wanted to hear. I told her that I just wanted to go over to his house and get it back!

Suddenly, my devious mind kicked in and said, “well, why not?” I conned my bestie into coming with me. At the time, I also thought it best to go to Ryan’s house when he was not home. I realize this would be considered “breaking and entering”, but we did not break anything when we entered. That was because I squeezed through a window. It was also not stealing, as I was only coming for MY CD. I am not sure the police would have agreed with me on this one.

I get in the house with my bestie and start trying to locate the CD. I am so nervous and scared that I almost threw up and wet my pants at the same time. I got so nervous that I started to giggle and whisper to my bestie. I can not tell you why I was whispering, as we were the only two people in the house.

I did find the CD and take it with me when we departed the house. We made sure we did not touch anything else as to ease my guilt. Of course, Ryan later discovered it was gone. All he did was laugh about us getting into his house. However, this was the last time I ever let Ryan borrow anything. I bought him a couple of beers to make up for it.

Obviously, this was an extreme case, but you get the point. By the way, this was not my last time using this tactic to get something back. However, this was years ago, and cops did not have Taser guns to catch people breaking in someone’s home back then.

So, if you have things in your home that you have borrowed from someone else, find it and give it back. It was borrowed with the expectation of it’s return. If you can not find it, go buy another one. If you can’t buy another one, find out what you can do to make amends.

Just know, if you loan something to someone from the South, we may have to “visit” your house, while you are not home, in order to retrieve our item. Make sure your windows are locked, too. I am just sayin’.

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