DEAR HARRIETTE: My roommate borrowed an umbrella from me one day and never returned it. I kept asking for it back, but I was not too concerned because it had not rained, so I did not need to use it.
After a few weeks, she came to me and said she would buy me a new umbrella because she could not find mine. I was bummed because this was a huge, unique umbrella I’d had for years, and it was one of those things I had spent a good amount of money on because I liked it that much. When my birthday came around almost a year later, she gave me a gift bag with a small, compact umbrella that was fairly cheap and said, “Happy birthday! Told you I’d get you one.”
I was speechless. She questioned my dull reaction, and I tried to explain it to her. This was not a gift, this was a debt she owed me. I appreciated the thought, but I was annoyed that she posed it as if she were being generous. My item was worth a lot more, and she did not even bother to ask how much it cost. She told me I was ungrateful and to take or leave it. I did not want to create a bigger situation, so I said thank you and moved on. I know I will never use that umbrella because it’s not like mine. Am I ungrateful? She waited for my birthday to surprise me by paying me back. Do I have any right to feel like she took advantage of the situation? Am I wrong? -- Pay Me Back
DEAR PAY ME BACK: The mistake you made was in not being crystal clear with her when she said she lost your umbrella. You should have told her how upset you were due to its sentimental value -- and the actual value of the umbrella. Ideally, you should have asked her to reimburse you for the dollar value of the umbrella. Letting it go on for a year was not wise.
Let it go. Next time, don’t lend something that you aren't willing to lose, especially umbrellas -- those notoriously never make it back home.