My friend got drunk and accidentally broke my mobile phone.  Should I expect or demand payment from her?

brokenphone-flash3Let’s imagine that your friend were sober and broke your phone by sheer accident. Should she feel obligated to compensate you? Yes. She is responsible for the damage, much the way one would be responsible for breaking a dish in a china shop. The fact that she was drunk implies negligence and increases her responsibility, rather than mitigating it. (Consider how a drunk driver who causes an accident incurs greater penalties than a sober driver.) So of course she should apologize for what happened and pay for the repair of your phone. It is reasonable for you to expect that.

As far as whether or not you should demand payment, ask yourself about the nature of your relationship. Is it a strong friendship, which will weather this storm and emerge even stronger? Or is it a casual friendship, which will break under the strain? Is recovering the cost of the phone worth losing the friendship? Or is the friendship not worth keeping in the first place? As a Christian you are called to forgive – every time we say the Our Father we pray that God will forgive us our trespasses “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to let people walk all over us, so you would be wise to avoid loaning your phone to your friend again. Only you can decide what you want your relationship with your friend to look like going forward.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.