My Binoculars – Broken by a Friend

I am a kind and sharing person.  I feel like that is a bit lofty, but I know myself and I know it’s true.  I often let friends and family borrow my things, and I am quick to help with repairs.  Primarily, in my case, I help with tech support.  I’m the nerdy engineer who knows how to fix the computers and such that my non-engineer friends and family do not know. On Thanksgiving, I fixed my in-law’s PC for the 4th time this year alone. 

About six months ago, I loaned a friend my old binoculars.  I only had one pair, but I have had them for 10 years.  It was 10 years ago that my wife and I went to Utah for a long vacation. We were dating then, and the idea was to get some time alone together, and to explore some beautiful places.  We really had a great time out there.  One night when we were visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, I had the idea to go out under the stars.  The park is open all night, so we drove into the parking lot of the main entrance from our hotel.  Looking up, we could not make out any constellations because there were so many stars.

Now in my youth, like so many kids, I had an interest in space.  My father was in the Air Force, an auto mechanic not a pilot, but then neither was I a pilot when I too joined the Air Force.  My parents took me to Kennedy Space Center on a trip to Florida to visit family, and we even visited Goddard Space Flight Center on another vacation.  I read tons of it, and even the Challenger disaster, which I saw live, did not dampen my love of space. 

Like most kids, though life and other interests steered me away from that interest.  This trip, though, to the big wide skies of the Western United States rekindled my love of the sky.  Shortly after returning from that trip, I went out an purchased a pair of binoculars specifically for astronomy. I had no idea what  I was doing, and we lived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  I should add that a few months after the trip, I bought the binoculars, which was about the same time we moved in together.  Engagement was about the same time as well, but I digress.  

I used those binoculars to look through our apartment window out to the sky.  Occasionally, through my tiny patch of sky, I could see a planet, Jupiter or Mars.  Views of the moon were great.  I bought a cheap camera stand and a binocular mounting bracket which together cost me about $20.  The binoculars were not cheap, though.  At the time, the retailed for nearly $150, and today they retail for about $220.

As the years went by, we moved to the suburbs, and ended up having a son.  My interest in astronomy grew, and my telescope collection followed.  I still used the binoculars, though. They are great for comets, like 46P/Wirtanen and smaller constellations.  

About six months ago, I loaned out those binoculars to a coworker who is a friend, and is not so wise with money.  They spend instead of saving, and that leaves them with less over all.  I thought nothing of loaning that person my binoculars, as I have to others from time to time over the years.  This time was odd though, as they asked me if the focus worked about a month or so after borrowing them.  The focus always worked, and I wondered about that. I also wondered why they hesitated so much when I asked for the binoculars back.  I finally got them back, and then about a week ago, I decided to take them out for comet hunting.  They did not work. The focus was broken.  I have no direct proof as I did not think to test them when I got them back from the borrower, but I find it hard to believe that I gave them broken binoculars.  They did not own up to it, and again they are a coworker that I have to work with going forward.  

Had I found them to be broken upon returning them to me, I would have instructed that person to pay for them.  The fact that I waited a month or so, not thinking they would be broken.  It is possible that they were broken at my home, but my son is afraid to go into the basement where they are stored alone, and my wife had 0 interest in my astronomy equipment.  All of that equipment is carefully stored on a metal shelf to keep it safe.  

I ended up replacing them with a slightly better model for less money than my old pair.  Thank you Black Friday.  I am still not sure whether to ask the coworker about this or not.  I can say that I will not loan them anything any more, and I be more careful if  I loan anything to anyone.  I don’t want to overreact, but I am annoyed.  Sigh.  Lesson learned, that is for sure.

What do you think?  Should I approach them now regardless?

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