Manners Matter: Neighborly Conduct

Dear Mary Pat,

My neighbor is always borrowing things from us and usually forgets to bring things back. Sometimes it’s something like a couple of eggs, and that’s no big deal. I don’t expect him to replace them, but when it’s for something that I need – like my snowblower or rake or chainsaw, I want those things returned as soon as he’s done so it goes back into the proper spot in my garage. My wife would tell you that I’m obsessive about my garage, but I think that’s an exaggeration. I like things to be orderly so I can find them again. Even so, the real issue is that I shouldn’t have to ask for things back after my neighbor borrows them. I don’t want to say no to him, but I’m tired of hunting my own belongings down.


Neat Nick

Egg Harbor, Wis.


Dear Neat Nick,

It’s generous of you to lend your neighbor things and he seems to be oblivious about how to be a good neighbor as well as a good borrower. When someone lends you something, you should return it right after using it. It’s very simple.

The next time your neighbor comes calling for a favor, you need to spell out your expectations. “Yeah, Joe, of course I’ll lend you my rake, but I’ll need it back when you’re done this afternoon.” He doesn’t seem to be as organized and orderly as you are. If you are clear with the terms, then he will hopefully be more inclined to return things promptly.

Good luck,

Mary Pat