A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Polonius Was Right

Happy Return To Sender Day!
What? Never heard of it?
That's not surprising. It's a brand-new event invented by Sarah Kidder, a professional etiquette consultant and event planner in Oakland. The day is dedicated to returning items you've borrowed and asking for the return of items you've loaned. The first one is next Tuesday.
"I was reorganizing my office and came across a few things I've been trying to give back to people, things I've been tripping over, including some old shoes left behind by a houseguest and a pair of designer candles I've been holding for my brother," she says. "And I keep looking for things I've loaned out but have never been returned.
"I was chatting with my friend Jenny, who was also in the same boat, and she noted how awkward it is to ask for something back after six months, or a year, or five.
"So I said, 'What if we made it easier for people to ask for their stuff back? And what if and took the shame out of returning something two years late?'"
And we said, "We should come up with a day!"
The first Return To Sender Day- RTS Day, for short - will be next Tuesday, March 20, the first day of spring. (Spring cleaning, get it?)
But is anyone really hankering to get their old stuff back?
"Absolutely! Very few people forget about the weird stuff they've loaned out, even if it's been decades. You don't forget about that book or that swing record. It doesn't even matter if you really want it any more. It's the principle of the thing."
To make it easier for you, Kidder has set up a website and Facebook page with a FAQ sheet and some downloadable templates of reminders to send your friends. Among them:
"Missing: Deep Fryer. Last seen: Your house. For that BBQ you hosted. You said you'd bring it back Monday. That was nine months ago. I'd like it back on RTS Day."
"Wanted: Faux Vintage Telephone. You borrowed it for a theme party. You don't even have a landline. I miss it. It's been two years. Please return it on RTS Day."
"I have your DVDs. I'll drop them in your mailbox on RTS Day. Sorry it's taken so long to get them back to you."
To access the Facebook page, go to www.facebook.com/RTSDay/ To access the website, visit www.sarahkidderdesigns.com/
"RTS Day gives everyone a chance to ask for their stuff back without sounding like a nag or petty, and it gives a guilt-free way to return items," she says. "I don't know where this is all headed, but I hope it goes viral. I think it would be wonderful if people had a way to get their power drills or Tupperware back and keep their friendship."
Old Polonius was right: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." But if you must borrow, give it back!
So get ready, Cliff Stoll: I'm going to return two books - "Courtesans and Fishcakes" and "Bowling Alone" - that you loaned me five years ago.
And David Kemnitzer: I'd like to get back that autographed copy of "Fear On Trial" by John Henry Faulk, which you borrowed from me back in 1970.
What's on your RTS list?

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