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Until now, my family and I had a tradition of making waffles and eating them on Christmas morning.

The devices used to make said waffles were two 70s era electric waffle makers. Suffice to say that waffles are not considered "legit" for the tradition unless they are made with these waffle makers or the equivalent vintage devices.

An important person at church is a teacher at a local high school and teaches culinary arts, and asked to borrow the waffle makers. We agreed after letting her know that these waffle makers fulfill this important traditional role in our holiday festivities, so it cannot be said that she did not know how important they were to us.

A great deal of time passed before we learned that she had accidentally donated the waffle makers some time ago.

I know that I am forced to accept that these items are gone. I will not be loaning items to this person again. And meanwhile, I am looking for replacements at thrift stores, and perhaps I will find some in time.

So that's not the issue.

The issue is that the borrower, after informing us of the loss of the items, and having been informed of their importance prior to borrowing them, has made no gesture other than a verbal apology.

I am rather upset about it, and unfortunately when I am upset about something, going up and talking to the person tends to make that person never want to talk to me again. "Learn to be calmer!" would be great advice, to which I would ask "Great! How?" I have exactly the same response to the advice "Get over it!"

I feel there should have been some effort on her part to acquire replacements, or at least some offer of remuneration.

And let us say that I do demand some sort of redress. Then it was grudgingly done, only to shut me up.

The long version of the question is:

How to ask for redress of a grievance that "ruins" a long held family tradition in way that does not destroy the relationship yet also assuages my disappointment and anger?

(I think I'm hosed here....)

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    Is it specifically about "how to ask"? Because if the person doesn't want to cooperate, you are indeed hosed. – Erik Sep 7 '17 at 17:12
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    What have you tried to find the waffle-maker or replace it? I see several 1970s-era wafflemakers on eBay. Did you take their word for the donation? "I donated it" makes for a pretty good lie for lazy people wanting to keep a waffle-maker or those who won't be bothered to find it in their hoarded home and give it back. – Paul Sep 7 '17 at 22:34
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    Agree with @Paul. Have you asked where they were donated to possibly see if that organisation still has them? – David K Sep 8 '17 at 12:37
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    How come someone can donate a thing that is borrowed? This is a bigger problem than not compensating the damage. Either she is old enough to forget such things or lying, my bet on second. Trace the device. – shyos Sep 8 '17 at 12:47
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    @shyos It has nothing to do with age. If someone has something for long enough, it's entirely possible they might forget it was borrowed, especially if they're in general a bit scatterbrained. A waffle iron sounds like something that'd stand out more than a book or movie, but it's still believable. – Llewellyn Oct 13 '17 at 17:34
37

At first I thought there was no way here. But I reread and noticed

An important person at church is a teacher at a local high school and teaches culinary arts, and asked to borrow the waffle makers.

If this person professes to be a Christian (and you do as well), there is a straightforward solution, but that doesn't mean she will receive it well.

Matthew 18: 15 states

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him — work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend." (It goes on to say, "If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.") (The Message)

Clearly you need not go as far, but there is good reason to confront this person: they have caused you harm (grief, anger, and resentment). They, as a Christian, should understand if you approach them in the spirit of Matt 18, to make reparations to your relationship. They have damaged that.

You say,

How to ask for redress...in way that does not destroy the relationship yet also assuages my disappointment and anger?

You can't do anything but ask. If this person cannot apologize in a meaningful way that repairs the relationship, you can accept that they are lacking in empathy and/or interpersonal skills, and you can either forgive, knowing you've done your part, or you can proceed, and talk to your pastor.

Good luck getting back antique waffle irons (honestly.) It would be great if you did, but for the sake of restitution, I would ask for new waffle irons myself. Then, even though it's not the same thing, you can continue the tradition while you're looking for the real thing.


Edited to add: For those who aren't Christians and who feel this is useless to them, I'd ask, what other options do you have? You have to either confront the person or forgive them.

Someone has hurt you. You have festering anger and disappointment because you were not treated like your hurt mattered.

If the harm done is grievous enough that forgiving them just isn't happening, and you want to approach the person (as the OP states in the question) in a way that won't ruin the relationship, this advice still holds.

Approach the person in the spirit of saving the relationship.

It takes courage, but it sends this message (even if it's not your primary motivation; even if your primary motivation is to deliver yourself of your hurt): our relationship is important to me. I don't think you realize it, but you damaged our relationship with your actions. I need to talk to you about it.

The principle is the same. Ask for a time to meet this person. Tell them why you want to meet. Let them pick the time and place so they feel some control. Then meet. Practice what you're going to say ahead of time. Be kind, even if they weren't. But be direct as well. Tell them how much lingering hurt you've experienced from their action, and how they dismissed it/reacted to it. Then wait for them to either recognize they need to do more, or to be defensive.

If they recognize the need to do more, great! You're on your way to reparation and redress.

If they are defensive (the will counter with "facts", not feelings), return the conversation to feelings; people can argue "facts", but they can't deny your feelings. If you concentrate on your feelings ("but I do feel hurt, even if you think I shouldn't"), they will either eventually relent and ask what they can do, or they will show that they place their own feelings and beliefs above your own, i.e. they are unable to empathize enough to repair the relationship.

At that point, you - if the relationship is more important - either ask for mediation, or you forgive. You did what you could, there is nothing more to do. But the person heard you.

Often, that's really what it takes, to be heard as a person with real feelings. Ideally then you're treated like one, too. But you can lead a horse to water...

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    I know you to be right, so I mark this answer as the answer. Doesn't make it easy, of course. For a further wrinkle. "important person" is "senior pastor's wife" which adds a little bit to it. – user2014 Sep 7 '17 at 19:48
  • Oy! Then this really is the approach I'd take. It goes to show we're all just humans. I would practice on someone close, then ask to meet with her. Yes, it's hard; no one wants to appear "petty". But the truth is, she hurt you. It's her responsibility to really acknowledge that. Hope it goes well. – anongoodnurse Sep 7 '17 at 20:17
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    That added anecdote at the end really adds to the experience, especially to readers without many of these troubles! – Pysis Sep 8 '17 at 0:16
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    Hm, I feel this answer highlights one of the downsides of the stack format for social topics. This entire answer is entirely correct for OP, but it hinges entirely on a tiny detail. To anyone with the same problem, but without that tiny detail, this answer is fairly useless. – Erik Sep 8 '17 at 7:37
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    @Erik - I understand your sentiment, but it is only as useless as many other wise pieces of advice in Scripture. – anongoodnurse Sep 8 '17 at 13:16
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Honestly? As you said, "get over it" is pretty much the best thing to do if you don't want an unnecessary confrontation over an old waffle iron. But the disappointment and anger still exists. A few questions to ask yourself here:

  1. Is some sort of repayment from the loaner going to make you actually feel better?
  2. A replacement waffle maker from the loaner ever going to feel the same to you?
  3. What is more important? The antiquity of the waffle maker or the destruction of your tradition?

Here are some suggestions for each possible answer for the aforementioned 3 questions:

  1. If the loaner gives you, say $500 (just throwing a number out there). Would it be easier for you to forgive her right then and there and stop being upset that she lost your waffle maker? Probably, yes. But every day you get up to make waffles and see that you have to use the new fancy Waffle maker with the high resolution display, would that hurt you a bit? Probably, yes. Family traditions and antiquity are both equally important in this situation. But is there anything you can do to replace both of them and feel happy after? Not really, unless you actually accept the fact that it is never going to be the same and try to be attached to a new tradition/waffle maker.
  2. Replacement waffle maker would pretty much mean the same feelings from your side as mentioned in the first point. But, how frustrating would be if she bought a couple of cheap waffle makers and give them to you and think you'll be happy thereafter? The first thought that would come into your mind is: "Seriously? Are you trying to replace those old antique waffle makers with these cheap knock-offs?" Even if they take the time and effort and find an antique, you'd still feel meh about it.
  3. If the antiquity of the waffle maker is more important to you, no new antique waffle maker is the same as this particular one that your ancestors bought in the 70s. If destruction of tradition is more important to you, a new waffle iron or new tradition(say hot dogs on a really old grill), neither is going to be satisfying to you.

But, some sort of display of grief on the loaner's part is definitely due. My advise is, approach the loaner. I know this particular line is going to receive criticism, but make the loaner feel bad about doing it.

A few ways to go about doing it:

  1. You could always use the good-old "You are a bad human for destroying my family tradition" approach. This is just an unnecessarily escalated argument. I'd suggest staying on the "nicer" side.
  2. Next time you talk to the person or spend time with them, talk about how it is not the same. Do not ever mention the words "since you lost the waffle maker". They need to know innately it is their fault. Something in the lines of

    "yeah we've been looking for an antique waffle iron to replace our old ones. Could you keep your eyes open for any antique waffle maker when you go to a thrift store next time or something? I'd really appreciate some leads on this"

    "Grandma(/grandpa/any of the oldest family members that have been a part of this tradition in your family) is very upset that the new waffle makers we got does not feel the same anymore. I've been trying to get him to like it and feel like it is still the old tradition, but it is really hard"

Something like that. If you see their face cringe a little bit, you'd feel better about it. Humans are ugly creatures like that. We need others to feel bad about doing something ugly to you like that.

Story time:

My mom had a typewriter that belonged to her dad. He used to type stories in the typewriter when he was in his mid-30s. My dad is a greedy person. He took the typewriter to the place you sell iron by weight (because this typewriter was made predominantly of iron). He sold the typewriter for a VERY small amount. My mom was very upset about it. She talked to him about how important this typewriter was to her and that she would never forgive him for selling it. He didn't seem to care too much. A few months passed, my mom found an article in the newspaper about how old typewriters are starting to become antique and are worth a lot of money. She took that article to my dad and told him: "Look at this, we got ripped off on the typewriter sale, we could have made so much more".

She obviously didn't mean it. She didn't want it sold. She knew that the only way she's going to get to my dad is making him actually feel bad for whatever he believes in; in this case, money. He felt bad after reading it, came to my mom, and apologized with a few tears in his eyes saying "I am sorry. I didn't realize how valuable these typewriters are."

Moral of the story:

Did he actually feel bad for the right reasons? No. Did it make my mom feel better that he at least felt bad? YES! She felt better after that.

Its that small craving for regret from someone for their fault that would make you feel better. It is easy to make that happen with guilt.

P.S.: I apologize if anyone doesn't agree with this answer or if I offended anyone by this, but this is just how most humans are.

  • 1
    I missed the part about "Christmas morning". I thought it was every morning. I apologize. – Crazy Cucumber Sep 7 '17 at 17:33
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    A waffle iron bought in the 1970's is an "antique"? Boy do I feel ancient! – user247327 Sep 7 '17 at 22:12
  • Yeah, at least 50 years off an antique. – Tom.Bowen89 Sep 8 '17 at 10:35

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