By Rick Houser –
A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a cordless drill and couldn’t find mine. My first thought was that I would ask my son Brendan if I could borrow his because I knew he had gotten a new one for Christmas. But after thinking about it for a minute, I changed my mind and decided not to ask, my thought being “it isn’t proper to ask to borrow”. Since then and after the purchase of a brand new drill, I have asked myself the following question, “Since when did it become not nice to borrow?”
In the past for a person to borrow was an acceptable thing to do. Of course to borrow and forget where you borrowed and never return what you have borrowed has always been a major no- no. It was and still is important to remember to borrow means. Webster’s’ Dictionary defines borrow as: “To receive with implied or expressed intention of returning the same or an equivalent.” With those thoughts in front of us, we can proceed with this topic.
As a boy I watched my Dad and neighbors borrow items back and forth without even asking or telling the owners it was even happening. It was just a normal part of life. Nobody kept track and nobody became bothered by something not being there after it had been borrowed. If you really needed something, all you had to do was go to the correct neighbor and ask for it. Simply no fuss and no hassle. Seriously, just what was the problem? If you had time to need it you definitely had time to find it.
I really don’t have the answer to why the concept of borrowing has dwindled so much, but could it be that borrowing got too far out of hand? I know that once my Dad wanted to use a sub soiler on a field. This is a farm implement that goes deep into the ground and breaks open the clay. Just a side detail you might find interesting, Dad looked in all the places he was sure he would find it and there was no sub soiler, so he began asking neighbors if they had seen his missing farm implement. After a couple of weeks it showed up at a neighbor’s farm on the other side of Felicity. How it got there we will never know and truthfully it really didn’t matter as long as it appeared somewhere. Dad went and got it and took care of his field. To my knowledge there was no harm to the soiler. No harm, no foul.
However as time has passed, things have changed. Life is faster and we are on the move all the time, so much so we that don’t get to know those that live the closest to us, our neighbors. Since we are not familiar with those around us, the tradition of borrowing from neighbors has faded from the scene. Maybe this approach to taking care of things you need to do is not the way it used to be, but think for a moment. If you combine all of your tools with all of your friends and neighbor’s tools, think just how many tools you have at your fingertips to solve your problems and everybody else’s in the group you belong to. By today’s standards, we could never accomplish what we used to.
Thirty years ago my wife and I bought the home we live in now. When we were ready to move, we were very short on help to and needed a truck (the thought of renting Mayflower never crossed our minds). So I went in advance to the most generous man I have ever known to this day- Weldon Taulbee, who possessed nearly every piece of equipment there was or knew how to borrow it with no problem. I asked Weldon if I could use his truck for a week to move with and of course he said yes. Three weeks later I was still moving and one Saturday morning a knock came at my door. It was Weldon and he wanted to know if he could borrow his own truck. I of course said “yes”, but kiddingly mentioned that perhaps he ought to think about getting a truck like I had. He laughed and brought it back that afternoon with a full tank of gas no less.
Since then I have noticed that the lending process has slowed considerably. About the only place you will see it is in the comics where Dagwood Bumstead loans his tools to Herb Woodley, his neighbor. I’m not sure if it is lack of trust or just lack of knowing those near well enough. I know my daughter and son will borrow from me but even that doesn’t happen very often. Are we just now bad neighbors? I don’t think so. However, the way things were done have changed and changed a great deal.
It is so easy to visualize my Dad and his neighbors using each other’s tools and even at times using their own tools on the neighbor’s place. It wasn’t I guess the possession but the deed accomplished that mattered the most then. I will be honest, I like owning my tools but I can’t actually say, “No you can’t borrow my things.” I guess it is just an individual decision after all. As much as I think the more tools the better, I am still quite hesitant to borrow. It’s kind of sad we have arrived at this point of trusting now isn’t it?
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you wish to have him come to your organization and talk he would be glad to. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org