neither a borrower nor a lender be

grant me a moment for another pissy little rant today please.

about a month ago, one of the young actors from work (who shall remain nameless and to whom i’m generally well disposed), gets me out of bed at midnight (when i have to be up at 5.30a.m.). he’s down the road at the gas station, having filled his car only to discover that he cannot find his wallet.

he begs me to come to the rescue.

i turn on the light, throw a jacket on over my pj’s, unlock the security gate, get the car out and it still being winter in johannesburg, go out into the witch’s-tit-cold to pay his gas bill, which we all know these days is not cheap. he thanks me profusely, saying he’s been calling people for the last hour and nobody’s been able to help him and i was really a last resort. he’ll pay me back, he says.

okay.  everyone needs a knight (or lady) in shining armor from time to time. 

next morning at work i ask if he found his wallet. yeah, it was sitting on the counter at home. 

not a word about repaying his debt. 

a few days later, i finally ask when he’s going to pay me. i don’t want to have to ask, but i do. he looks surprised. now, when i owe someone money, for whatever reason, it is my first priority to get it back to them. it’s how i was raised and never mind that, it’s the right thing to do. especially when it’s getting to the end of the month and everyone’s struggling to keep things together.

probably a week later, he finally pays me, but by now we cannot remember exactly how much the total was, so he pays me most of it. i say i’ll find the receipt and tell him about the rest. a week or 10 days later, i finally call him aside when he has shown no inclination to pay me the remainder. you know, by now it’s not the issue of how much money it is, it’s the fact that i did him a huge favor, and he

a. does not seem to appreciate it.

b. does not feel compelled to settle his debt. 

i’ll bring it to your house, he says. good thing i’m not holding my breath.

call me old-fashioned, call me strange, but i live by a certain moral code which means that my word is my bond and i have a certain code of ethics which requires that i treat others equitably – you know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

shakespeare put these words into the mouth of the old pedant polonius, but it doesn’t make it less appropriate:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend…

so based on this experience, do you think i’ll get out of bed at midnight, next time i get a 911 call? not bloody likely!

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