DEAR ABBY: The letter from the woman whose neighbor comes over "no less than twice a day to borrow something" prompts my own. One sentence stood out that you might have missed: "Lately, I've been telling her I'm out of whatever she asks for, but she's always quick to ask for something else." Is it possible that the neighbor might be needing a friend? Sometimes reaching out and asking for something is an attempt at conversation and friendship. A shy person might think this is an effective way of communicating.
What if the writer were to walk over and ask to borrow something herself? I'd be interested to see if the neighbor invites her in. If so, maybe that's the type of hospitality she's looking for.
Abby, I think your advice was excellent for a pesky neighbor, but what if the person is someone who wasn't blessed with the social skills that you and I were -- and is only trying to make a friend? -- MARISA IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIF.
DEAR MARISA: Your point is well taken. However, it is my observation that people who approach with something to give are usually welcomed more quickly than those who habitually approach with an outstretched palm. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I was also faced with neighbors who had more money and stamina than I. Believe me, they borrowed everything they could.
As the wife of a hard-working husband and the mother of eight children, I had to put a stop to it. When a woman asked to borrow my curlers, I asked her to leave something with me until I got them back, because "You know I will return them" never happens. I posted a note on my refrigerator that read: "If you want a cup of sugar, give me two potatoes. A can of tomatoes equals four eggs ..." etc.
This was such a popular idea that all the neighbors started swapping instead of borrowing. -- VINA ROY, MERRIMACK, N.H.
DEAR VINA: You're a clever lady. Swapping is better than constantly borrowing any day of the week.