When Borrowing Becomes Commandeering

Prairie Gleanings

Borrowing tools is a sacred ritual between neighbors. But, the rules are a bit lax when it comes to fathers and sons.

Published on: January 8, 2013

Commandeer: officially take possession of something, typically for military purposes.

It's a word Hollywood loves to use. The hero lost his car in the heat of the chase? No problem, flash a badge and gun at the closest citizen and shout, "Police officer, I'm commandeering your vehicle."

It's an exotic word, but I'd wager many of us are familiar with it in a little different sense. Specifically, I'm talking about "borrowing" tools. Even more specifically, I'm thinking of tools I've borrowed from my dad.

Several years ago, he loaned me a nice aluminum extension ladder so I could paint my house. It's still in my garage. In fact, I used it last weekend to take the Christmas lights down. At this point, we're well past the borrowing stage. I've pretty well commandeered it. Sorry dad.

Funny thing is, if anyone else commandeered his tools, he'd be a bit irritated. Most men are like that. The line is fuzzy on when borrowing becomes commandeering. Is it 3 months? Six? A whole year?

The ironic thing about tool lending is the lender always remembers it's missing. The borrower on the other hand...I'm willing to bet a lot of you have finally asked for a tool back after more than a year (with your wife's prompting perhaps. "just ask him for it"). And, shock! He says, "Oh, do I have that? Well I completely forgot about it." Hopefully, for his sake, you didn't see him using it last week. 

While were at it, how many folks have invented a project just to get a specific tool returned?

"Jim, I'm going to need my tile saw back. We're going to re-do the bathroom." 

"I thought you just re-did your bathroom last year?"

"Well, yeah, and I'm pretty irritated about it. But, hey, just trying to keep the wife happy."

I'm pretty lucky. I've amassed a good bit of tools for an urbanite. However, my friends either aren't close enough to enact the borrowing rule or they have yet to fully embrace home ownership and the repair joys that come with it. 

But still, dad, I'll get that ladder back to you...just as soon as I remove that old satellite dish of the roof. Well, then I'll need it to clean my gutters this fall. Oh, and I have to hang lights again next December. And, now that I'm thinking about it, I don't know that it will fit in my trailer. So, I may need to borrow your truck.