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home : columns : dear harriette October 23, 2020

9/4/2020 8:37:00 AM
Reader upset when roommate borrows, loses umbrella

DEAR HARRIETTE: My roommate borrowed an umbrella from me one day and never returned it. I kept asking for it back, but I was not too concerned because it had not rained, so I did not need to use it.

After a few weeks, she came to me and said she would buy me a new umbrella because she could not find mine. I was bummed because this was a huge, unique umbrella I'd had for years, and it was one of those things I had spent a good amount of money on because I liked it that much. When my birthday came around almost a year later, she gave me a gift bag with a small, compact umbrella that was fairly cheap and said, "Happy birthday! Told you I'd get you one."

I was speechless. She questioned my dull reaction, and I tried to explain it to her. This was not a gift, this was a debt she owed me. I appreciated the thought, but I was annoyed that she posed it as if she were being generous. My item was worth a lot more, and she did not even bother to ask how much it cost. She told me I was ungrateful and to take or leave it. I did not want to create a bigger situation, so I said thank you and moved on. I know I will never use that umbrella because it's not like mine. Am I ungrateful? She waited for my birthday to surprise me by paying me back. Do I have any right to feel like she took advantage of the situation? Am I wrong? -- Pay Me Back

DEAR PAY ME BACK: The mistake you made was in not being crystal clear with her when she said she lost your umbrella. You should have told her how upset you were due to its sentimental value -- and the actual value of the umbrella. Ideally, you should have asked her to reimburse you for the dollar value of the umbrella. Letting it go on for a year was not wise.

Let it go. Next time, don't lend something that you aren't willing to lose, especially umbrellas -- those notoriously never make it back home.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I made a fancy dinner for my husband this weekend, just because I wanted him to smile. Things have been so challenging of late that I wanted to change the pace a bit. When he came home from work, I had lit candles, set the table nicely and had all of his favorite foods right there for him. What did he do? Fuss at me for spending too much money. It was awful. I spent only a little bit extra, but I thought it was important to do something special for him. He hardly ate anything. Now I'm mad. I feel like he is ungrateful. What should I do now? -- Hurt

DEAR HURT: When you calm down, tell your husband your intention was to make him smile. Explain that you know how tough things have been, and all you wanted was for the two of you to have a special evening in the midst of all that's going on. Tell him you are sorry that your gesture upset him. What you wanted to do was to show your love and appreciation for him.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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