If there’s one thing I’ve always had a problem with it’s letting people borrow my books. I don’t like it and generally avoid it if possible.
There are probably multiple reasons for this, but the biggest one is people seem to have a big damned problem with not destroying other people’s belongings. This is second only to their problem with taking responsibility for destroying other people’s belongings. Case in point – my copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
I let a neighbor borrow it several weeks ago. He decided to return sometime late this morning. I found it in the garage, under a chair. At first I thought it may have fallen off the chair because who puts books they’ve borrowed under chairs? Then I picked it up. Now that I’m not quite so infuriated, let me describe it for you. Keep in mind it was pristine when I lent it to him.
The book is covered in dirt. The inside of the dust cover is blackened. The edges of the pages are blackened. The dirt is so bad it comes off on my hands when I handle it. The dust cover itself is worn to the point that the clear film is peeling back. The exposed paper is tattered. There are rips, creases and scratches all over it.
The book itself is also damaged. The front cover is starting to separate from the rest of the book. The edges of both the front and back cover are worn so badly I can see the cardboard underneath. The cardboard itself looks like it was smashed against a flat surface. The pages are filthy with circular rings, dirty fingerprints and what appears to be pastry crumbs. In fact, the book itself smells like some kind of slightly sweet food item I can’ t quite place.
There are also greasy looking splotches in some areas and the spine is cracked in two places. One is so severe an indention can be seen on the outside of the book and the bonding material is quite visible on the corresponding pages (shown above). There’s only one way to cause that kind of damage. The book has to be forced open to the point where the covers touched – like a magazine – and generally held like that for a bit. The covering on the outer spine is worn through at the bottom the underlying cardboard can be seen.
The book is, quite frankly, a god damned mess and is by far the worst condition I’ve ever had a book returned in. Wear and tear is one thing, but this is largely intentional mistreatment that just ticks me off. At the same time, I’m kind of thankful I let him borrow a hardback first (not that he’ll be borrowing anything from now on). I was thinking of letting him borrow several softbacks that I have. I can only imagine the damage he would’ve done to them.
So, now I get to play the bad guy because I think it’s quite clear he wants to act like a child instead of owning up to it like an adult. I shouldn’t have to track him down like some errant child. I am not his mother and don’t like being put in the position that essentially requires such behavior. That’s infuriating in and of itself.
The whole situation is just so frustrating! Why do people do crap like this? It solves nothing.