Pulling another question from the 2nd edition of A Question of Scruples. Who wrote these questions?
Your daughter and son-in-law avoided the cottage while their help was needed. Now the work is done, and they want to use it. Do you declare the cottage off limits?
My in-laws have a cottage. They do the bulk of the work on it in terms of fix-ups and prepping for the seasons. Last summer we used it on a couple weekends. We brought extra water so we wouldn’t have to use all of their stash, we packed our own food, and cleaned up after ourselves — cleaning the portapotty, sweeping up, covering the furniture again, etc. We were unable to fix a couple things, however:
A bear had gotten to the cabin at some point and ripped part the deck down and took apart the BBQ as well. We were pretty bummed since we had no idea how to put it back together and weren’t sure it’d work if we tried. We ended up frying our hamburgers on the stove instead. And then there was a juicy burger accident on the sofa to clean up soon after. That was amusing because it wasn’t me…
Later in the weekend, my foot went through a rotten board on the ramp and we had to scrounge around the woodpile for something we could use to replace it in the short term. I felt kind of bad about that, but I think it was one of those inevitable things. Somebody was going to break it. My “lucky” day. Should have bought a lottery ticket. At least I didn’t catch my leg in such a way as to fall and twist and injure myself. It would have been a long drive back to the city.
So, to answer the question. Yeah, if it were our cabin I’d let the kids use it but make it clear that I expect them to put everything back the way they found it and admit to any damage they cause. If they can fix it themselves, they ought to. If they can’t, they should at least feel bad about it. I know I did.
That’s the thing when you’re borrowing other people’s stuff. It really ought to be treated better than you treat your own stuff. As a library worker (and general user) I’m frequently thrown by the damage I see to the CD/DVD cases and books. What are these people doing? I saw one video game case that had been lit on fire and melted to the point where the paper cover was glued into it. I’ve seen water damage so bad that the ink flakes off the covers. Books so warped and stained that they look like barely legible biohazards on the shelves. I don’t know why the stuff that bad off even makes it back to the shelves to be borrowed again, but that’s a screed for a different Scruples question.
Until next time.