What to do when you’ve kept something loaned to you for way too long
A year ago, I was staying in a residential society (a gated community) in a metropolitan city and I came across a message through a society app, someone from another block wing, stating something I related to, about starting a reading club within the society. I liked the idea and also thought it might be nice for me to start reading books. So, one evening, I decided to go over to that apartment (sender’s house) to get more details about it.
I met the lady who sent out the message, and she was surprised, super nice to me and I thought I made great first impression on her family. She introduced me to her kids, a boy and a girl same as my age, and they were all welcoming. Though the program of reading club was only for kids, I observed that they all were a family of avid readers and somehow the conversation went onto reading, genres, etc. When i expressed my interest to start reading, they offered to lend me a book to read and I obviously couldn’t deny it. They asked me to return the book once I finished reading it, after a month or two.
It’s been a full year and I never returned the book back to them, mainly because of procrastination for the initial few months which later turned into big guilt and the fear of facing them after so long without any reasonable explanation for the long delay. Now it’s been an year and here I am wondering why I delayed it, that I should have returned it… and I am back here again. I feel guilty and at fault, and I don’t know what to say to them. How do I return the book now?
I ruined that first impression of mine entirely. Now they must think I stole the book, had no intention of returning it, and ran away with it. I also know that they cherished their books, because they have their own library in the house, filled with books of various genres. I have met people whose world revolved around books and who love to read all day long. Their books mean the world to them and they get really pissed when someone take something so dear to them and never comes back. I had no ill intentions but now I am all the more afraid of their reactions and what they must be thinking about me.
I wouldn’t need to worry if it was my friend, but we just met once and they did me a favour, and I disappointed them.
How do I make this up to them? Should I make an excuse, the easiest way to not ruin the relationship and my image to get out of this whole dilemma and decide never to do this again?
I have no idea how to apologize for my ignorant behavior. Should I write an apology letter over email? Maybe a little bit formal. If so, I need help from someone who can write an apology letter on my behalf, as I am not good with English and my vocab is limited.
Hi icyplum –
I would love to say that I have no idea what you’re talking about, that every human I’ve ever met has been perfect and never made an awful mistake through procrastination or even purposeful avoidance.
But I can’t.
In fact, everyone I have ever seen has done something just like what you did!
And here’s the best part, not only am I sure that every person at that apartment has been in just this situation, but I also am sure that, because they’re such great readers, they’ve all read numerous stories about people who find themselves in embarrassing predicaments for which they need to confess.
In your case it’s about a book. Admittedly a book they thought enough of to recommend, but let’s be honest here – books are replaceable! Most likely you’re right, that they’ve given up on you… and so bought another copy of it! But it’s not as bad as… oh, say, in Crime and Punishment, when the man has to confess to a vicious murder. Or Great Expectations, where he has to confess to having become a snob. Or Gone with the Wind, where she has to confess to chasing a married man for years. Or…
Do you get where I’m going?
The situation you’re in feels awful, but the worst part of it is right now! If you return the book to them and explain what happened, and they do their worst – yell at you to get out and never come back and such – at least you’ll be done with this whole mess.
But having said that, I like your idea of writing an email first. Just to clear the air. Say that you’re horribly embarrassed – and that your embarrassment has even made this go on longer. And that you want to bring them the book and beg their forgiveness, and honor the kindness and welcoming they showed you.
But I then have one other thought. What I imagine they’d like best would be if you actually… read the book! What they wanted was to get kids reading, and if you bring it back without having done so, that might feel disappointing to them. How much better if you could come back, with the whole confession and all, but also with a report on what you thought of the book they liked so much!
Would that be possible?
But even if it’s not, my biggest suggestion is to get moving on this so you can get past it. For their sake as well as yours.
It’s going to be okay. In fact, this might become the beginning of a great friendship – with people who can share their stories of embarrassment!
Best of Luck,