I live in a very big city where driving is pretty bananas. I told a friend of mine she could borrow my car if she ever really needed it. She asked to borrow on a Saturday, no time specified. I assumed she was borrowing it to move or large object or some other task that only cars are good for. She showed up late in the evening, all dolled up. I asked why she needed the car. She said she was "going to a lot of shows and wanted to be able get across the city quickly." I asked if she’d heard of cabs or the subway, which are designed for such an activity, and said I was uncomfortable with her going to bars in my car. I also told her that she would pay ten times more in parking and parking tickets than she would in subway fares. She said I was being a bully because I had said she could borrow my car anytime and therefore had no right to dictate what kinds of activities it would be used for. I explained that cars were expensive and that if something happened, it would be far worse for our relationship than our current spat. She got really mad and left, which made me feel like a jerk. But I think, since it’s my car, I should get to determine how it’s used. Is that okay?
The cool thing about buying a car is that you immediately become dictator of that car. It’s a self-contained nation. Maybe your nation’s broadcast system has a strict native content policy dictating that 50% of the music played on it must have come from CDs originating inside your car. Maybe, due to a crumbling infrastructure, your nation has no laws regarding sanitation, and old fast food wrappers/wet receipts/dirty sweatshirts are allowed to pile up without consequence. A person who borrows your car is not a new dictator. They are a tourist, visiting your island on a visa.
Did your friend really think she had carte blanche to do whatever she wanted in your car? That you “had no right to dictate what kinds of activities it would be used for”? At what point would she have felt it necessary to ask your permission before going ahead and living her life in the fast lane in your Honda? Before she had sex in it? Before she used it to run guns across state lines? Before she allowed a director-friend of hers to set it on fire for a Ke$ha video shoot?
If you had called her the next morning like, “Where’s my car?” and your friend had said “I sold it for scrap! $400 bucks!” would that have been on you because you shouldn’t have let her borrow it if you weren’t prepared to deal with the consequences?
It seems your friend has taken the word “bully” to mean “anyone who says or does something with which I disagree.” Unless you neglected to mention that you were holding her head in a toilet when the two of you had your tête-à-tête, it doens't sound like you were bullying her. You were expressing reasonable concern for the safety of a very expensive durable good.
Make no mistake! You do kind of sound like a pill. Asking if she’d heeeeard of taking a cab or using the subway? Explaaaaining that cars are expeeeensive? Yikes. If that’s your personality, it’s no wonder you have to cement friendships with the promise of free car loans. Instead of being condescending, you might have said “Oh, I’m not comfortable with my car being used for that. But, honestly, it will be cheaper and easier for you to take cabs or the subway. Finding a parking spot is an expensive nightmare on Saturday nights.” She still might have thrown a fit, but you wouldn’t come off like a dick (to third parties).
But, even if you're a dick, your friend is still in the wrong here. First of all, in what city do you guys live that a normal Saturday night includes going to “a lot” of shows? EPCOT? If you loan your car out to people who are moving, I assume it’s not a two seat Lamborghini, so why would she even want to roll up to da club in a 2003 Subaru station wagon? Is she a musician, who wanted a car to cart her equipment from gig to gig? That would make her request a little more reasonable.
Whatever the story, a person who operates on that level of selfish illogic is not the kind of person you want borrowing your car. Can you imagine convincing her to cough up money for a parking ticket? And what if the car was towed? Good luck getting her to hook you up with a ride to the impound lot; she only knows one bozo dumb enough to let her borrow his car and he’s actually looking for a ride to the impound lot right now.
I work at a high-end designer boutique, where I'm lucky enough to get a great discount on gorgeous clothes. Recently I was at dinner with family, talking about work, when my sister in law became very excited and asked what kind of discount I could get her on shoes. Without giving it any thought, I told her she could look online and pick what she wanted, but that I have a $2500 spending limit (before discount) per year. The next day, she sends me an email asking for, not just shoes, but also a wedding dress, headdress, gloves, and tiara all adding up to just under $2500. I've barely gotten to know my sister in law mostly because our personalities are quite opposite, and I had forgotten that she's a shopaholic who’s living off credit cards and cash advances. In her email she explained, "I saw my perfect wedding dress, I always wanted one just like this. I would be so happy if you're able to get this for my special day someday." Not only was I baffled by her entitled attitude, she also requested it a size 6, which is her "goal size." She's not even dating anyone.
My husband blames me for bringing up a discount around her in the first place. Unfortunately I said at dinner that I wasn't spending any money at work so "it's no problem, I can get your shoes." I don't want to buy her something that will sit in her house with all her other unopened stuff, because I may want to use my discount for friends later on, but I have no idea how to get out of this one. I don't know how to be honest without coming across really rude. I feel like lying is the best way to get out of this. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
What would your lie be exactly?
I didn’t want your brother to know I was unemployed, so I invented a fake boutique and set up an elaborate shell website where I posted photos and descriptions of gorgeous clothes not actually available for purchase. Every day I get up an hour before him and start doing my hair and makeup because my pretend-boss is a pretend-stickler about her employees’ (just me!) appearance. Then I get in my car and drive it to the edge of the woods outside of town, to empty out the gas tank a little. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I spend all day in the car and the woods, inventing stories about what will happen at the store the next week to me and the other shop girl, Kate-Mae Hissnif. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I walk two miles to a library one town over, where I’m taking an afternoon Spanish class for free. I’m a better salesman than Kate-Mae but sometimes I turn customers over to her when I think they’re about ready to buy so that the boss doesn’t fire her before she’s made enough money to pay for her abortion. Por favor, no le digas a tu hermano la verdad sobre mi vida secreta.
Instead, you could just send her a short, breezy email saying something like “Ha! You’ve got good taste. Girl after my own heart. I ordered the shoes we mentioned at dinner. With my discount, the cost came to $60. Was great seeing you!” This lets her know that the favor starts and ends at shoes, and affords her a graceful exit.
Yes, it is bizarre that a sister-in-law with whom you are not close emailed you such a long list of “*WANTS!*” after you offered to pick up a single pair of shoes. You can’t upsell a favor. This case is doubly weird because, unless the fiancé she hasn’t met yet plans on wearing a bejeweled headdress to the wedding that isn’t happening, she’s not going to have use for one of those plus a tiara. (How many pieces of symbolic headgear goes one princess need?) But "being honest" doesn't mean you have to tell her all of that.
If your sister-in-law follows up to badger you about ordering the other items, tell her the truth: Since you have a yearly spending limit with your discount, the shoes are all you’re able to get her right now. Don’t offer to pick up the other items if you still have some of your discount leftover at the end of the year; if she’s a compulsive shopper with a mountain of debt, she shouldn’t even be buying the shoes you agreed on.
If she refuses to let the matter drop (though I can't imagine how she could, after that — maybe by demanding access to your discount at knifepoint?), it’s time for your husband (or possibly the police) to intervene. If he won’t, you might consider buying that wedding dress for yourself, because you married an asshole and his sister is a nightmare.