“Dad, got a minute to talk?”
“Sure, Rick. What’s up?”
“I lent Frank some money a month ago, and he hasn’t repaid me and seems to be avoiding me. Somehow, I rarely see him.”
“What was it for?”
“Something he said was personal and did not want me to discuss.”
“That’s odd,” Rick’s father said.
“It irritates me that he is less friendly now than when I lent him the cash.”
Mr. Williams then told Rick about some experiences he had with lending things to friends and acquaintances. If he lent tools, often they were returned late or not at all. If he lent money, often the borrowers seemed embarrassed when they met later. Sometimes he did not get the money back, but even when he did, the people did not seem grateful.
Tess joined in. She had lent clothes to friends, only to get them back wrinkled or dirty. Not always, though. Sometimes her friends would return them cleaner and nicer than they were originally. She would borrow outfits, herself, but make sure they were clean before returning them, although once or twice they were damaged and she had to get them repaired, even though she might have ignored the damage if they were her own outfits, not the friends’.
Mr. Williams told Rick and Tess, “One of our relatives, and I won’t say who, needed several thousand dollars, a few weeks’ pay, and asked me for a loan. I talked it over with Mom, and we decide that we would make it an outright gift, rather than a loan, so that he would not feel indebted to us.”
Tess, asked, “So, what happened?”
“We have stayed friends. He was very thankful, and he has done a few nice things for us, as gifts, too.”
“I guess the lesson is that you should not lend more than you can afford to lose, and probably you should just make it a gift. I think I will tell Frank when I see him that I don’t want him to return the money, but consider it a gift.”
“That may hurt now, but turn out for the best in the long run,” Mr. Williams said.
Mrs. Williams chimed in “Shakespeare has one of his characters advise his son, ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be,’ so this is a common problem.”
When Rick saw Frank next, Rick told Frank to consider the loan a gift, but Frank said he couldn’t do that, and a week later, returned Rick’s money.
One of our fifty instructional stories for young readers.