“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”
W. Shakespeare – Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3, 75-77
I’m usually not cynical about helping someone out, and particularly helping out a musician. But, to some extent, Polonius’ advice to Laertes rings true. This is particularly true in the case of a loan I made which did not work out so well for me.
A musician came into to town and needed to borrow a 5-string banjo. I’d actually loaned it to him before with no issues. However, this time he borrowed it and that’s where the story looked like it was going to end. For those curious, I loaned it to him in either 2002 or 2003 and it’s so long I don’t remember exactly.
I was particularly angry because I bought this banjo myself when I was 16 years old. I realise it’s not the most high end instrument, and it only cost me $48 and change, but I’m attached to it. I bought it out of my baby bonus money, which, by family tradition, we were given the $10 per month you received after your 16 birthday to spend as you saw fit. I bought it on layaway from Zellers. Actually, I was one payment away from getting it and my grandmother threw in the last $8 and change to pay it off a month early.
When I was in hospital, the guy who borrowed it called and left a message on the answering machine that he wanted to get my banjo back to me. He left a local number to call. Shortly after I got home and I was feeling a bit better, I called with hopes high. The number he left was out of service. Hopes dashed.
Last week, I thought to myself that, since his last name isn’t that common, I’d try to find someone in town who had the same last name. Since he came up from Vancouver Island occasionally to visit, I assumed it might be to visit family. I actually know someone, a former student who works in town for YTG, with the same last name. So, on a flyer, I sent him an e-mail asking him if he knew where my banjo was… with the additional qualifier that this might be a stupid question if he wasn’t even half aware of what was going on. Turns out, the banjo was sitting at his house. We made arrangements and I picked it up after work. It needs restringing and the 5th string peg needs some repair. However, I have it back.
So, here it is, sitting in my recliner. Picking and grinning to follow restringing and repair. And, I’ll certainly think hard about the next time someone asks if I will loan one of my instruments.
Too bad Shakespeare didn’t write any good banjo tunes…