Oct 21, 2008


Neither a borrower or a lender be. This Shakespearean quote was often touted by my parents to me. They quite rightly instilled a belief into me that debt was another form of slavery and to use credit only in a few circumstances. I've largely carried those teachings into my adult life. I only have one credit card which I use in a situation that I deem dire. Otherwise if the money is not in my checking account I simply don't spend.

They also drilled into me how I should never lend money to friends. This was a lesson I failed at.

A friend, we'll call him Steve, called me months ago asking for money. He was out of work and was behind in his rent. Faced with an eviction notice he asked that I help him out. I told him I couldn't as I had a vehicle repair that was quite expensive and he should look to other means.

Let me give you a little background. Steve and I have been friends for years. He was that friend who no one else in my circle liked. He's not very intelligent nor cultured, but I found him to be a decent fellow who had some sense of charm. Steve was very handy and taught me a lot about mechanics as we tinkered around with cars while sipping beers. He enjoyed my company and I his, but there was a dark side to him.

Steve had addictions. No it wasn't to drugs or any other illicit substance. Steve could not keep his spending habits in control. He would rack up credit on many items he neither needed nor fit his income. Being working class and with little education Steve held odd jobs that couldn't supplement his want for material excess. A couple times I got calls from those check cashing places who said he put me down as a reference and he defaulted on his payments. I told them to never call me again as I know nothing about it.

He also had a more dangerous addiction. He couldn't stop dating emotionally troubled women. Throughout my years of knowing him he attracted the most psychotic females I've ever encountered. The mother of his daughter is so insane I could write a thesis on her alone. His involvement with these women not only effected his psyche, but his bank account and even encounters with the law.

Coming from a troubled childhood Steve seemed to do the best he could with the family he was given. Sadly he at times seemed to need therapy or an act of Christ for him to lead a more responsible life. I felt sorry for him at times and was often there to lend him a hand. I even went so far as to lie to a girlfriend for him when he was cheating on her, an experience I hope to never have again. Steve can best be described as a 30 something adolescent.

Whether it was giving a few bucks, being an ear for him when he was experiencing personal drama, or buying things for his daughter I was glad to assist and had a small amount of hope that his life would turn around. It got tough though.

After an encounter with his baby mama I found myself bailing him out of jail. As I stood in the bail bondsman office another 'customer' looked at me as I was hesitating to sign the paper work.

"You're doing the best thing a friend can ever do," he said to me. "You're a good friend."

I sighed, signed the paper, and handed my money to the bondsman.

I waited for Steve to be processed and released. I told him I would give him a ride home, but before hand I chewed his ass for trying to make it work with a woman who's prone to violence and all sorts of crazy behavior. He actually took it well and for once followed my advice and ended the relationship.

I hate to make it seem that the friendship was one sided. He was there to help me move, fix my car, and to just hang out over beers. He was loyal to me for what it was worth.

Fast forward to six months ago. He called me again pleading with me for help. His landlord gave him until the end of the week to come up with two months rent or he'd be out on the street. He had no where to go and him and his current girlfriend were without options. No one would give him a loan or a place to stay. His tug at my heart worked though. After much thought I told him I'd loan him the money and we agreed he'd pay me $150 a month until the debt was paid off. I asked him if he had a problem to at least call me and let me know.

I haven't heard from him since. Not a phone call. Nothing. His phone was disconnected. Worrying about him and his daughter's safety I went to his place to check up. When walking up to his door I heard voices coming from the apartment. I knock. It got quiet. I knock again. Not a sound. I knock a third time. No response at all.

I stood for about two minutes before I decided that kicking in the door would not be a good idea. I left.

I relayed all this to Corey. He said I might have done this knowing full well this would happen and I could exit the friendship guilt free. He may be right. Time will tell. I knew there were going to be problems, but nothing like this. I feel like a fool.

I don't care about the money. Even though two months rent at Seattle area rates are quite high I can afford the loss. I'm not broke by no means and my financial state has not suffered. I'm just pissed he didn't have the courtesy, or the balls, to face me if not for the sake of manners, but at least for our friendship.

Let this be a lesson to you all. If you want someone out of your life simply loan them money.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." - Lord Polonius, Hamlet


Anonymous said...

That's a sad story. I think every decent human being has/had a friend like that at some point.

Kelli said...

I agree ... it is a sad story. You both lost out on each others friendship and that is the worst part. Hopefully, one day, he will come to his senses and apologize for his behavior.

Sam said...

I am mixed on my opinion. In one way, good riddance, if a friend can't give you the courtesy of paying you back even if it is less then agreed upon, they aren't worth having around. On the other hand, having a 99.9% idea of who this is, it's sad that he will not have a friend like you around, money lending or not and that his daughter will not have a role model of what a good man is. You are a good friend Erik. Sorry you got screwed.

grace said...

Yikes, you are way too kind. I've never loaned my friends money, and I don't plan on every starting. It really sucks that you lost the money... :(

SareBeth said...

Damn why did I know that, 2 or 3 years ago!