Responsibility…And The Blame Game

I am a huge fan of responsibility. In general, I’m also keen on laws, rules, and regulations because then everybody knows exactly what’s acceptable and what’s not, or at least they should, and there ought to be no excuses for not abiding by them. That’s partly why I favor the Affordable Care Act. “Obama care” forces people to do the responsible thing, obtaining some form of health insurance, or else having to pay a fine come tax time. I was versed about responsibility, at a very early age, and that there are consequences to one’s actions. I was even taught when you borrow something you need to return it in the same condition, if not better, than when you took possession of the item. That’s certainly the responsible approach to take in that type of situation.

I also learned when you make a mistake you should admit it, and try rectifying the circumstance, instead of attempting to lay blame elsewhere. Back in the good old days unwed couples automatically tied the knot after learning they had conceived a child. I miss those days. That was responsibility at its best. However, responsibility has apparently fallen by the wayside, in this day and age, along with respect and common sense. A person need only watch Judge Judy once to comprehend the scope of what I’m trying to convey. Practically all of the cases on the show involve defendants blatantly shirking responsibility for their actions, and bringing them to court is the last chance plaintiffs have for receiving due justice.

It’s almost unbelievable how clueless some people are, concerning responsibility, and what they’re actually willing to say and do in order to avoid accepting any deserved blame. Many cases are about someone borrowing a car, from either a friend or a relative, having an accident, and then not understanding why on earth they should have to pay their friend or family member for the damages. Their defense, more often than not, is that their friend or relative is at fault because they should not have allowed them to borrow the vehicle in the first place. What?! No matter how long and hard the Daytime Emmy-winning judge tries, to make all of the ungrateful borrowers understand, her common sense explanations virtually always fall on deaf ears. Judge Judy shouldn’t feel too bad though because some people simply refuse to understand.

One of those people are Joseph Jessie Corrales. The 24 year-old recently pled guilty to second-degree murder in the beating death of a 17 year-old while robbing his home. During Mr. Corrales sentencing he said, “I am not a criminal, I’m a man who made a mistake in life.” Those hollow words do not ring true because Corrales was already on probation, for a different robbery, at the time of the murder. Unfortunately, the convicted killer was not the only one in the courtroom making excuses for his appalling behavior. The murderers attorney, Kellie Sanford, suggested he deserved leniency since men his age do not possess the cognitive thinking needed to avoid bad situations. I’ve heard that theory before: the brain isn’t fully developed until a person reaches their mid-twenties; however, I’m convinced all 24 year-olds have at least a general idea of the difference between right and wrong, and I absolutely think they know that murder is reprehensible.

Saying anything to the contrary only signifies how this country tends to coddle and enable those who make the wrong choices in life and shirk all responsibility. Another example of what I perceive as a nationally “acceptable” irresponsibility is that of those small disclaimers on the back of those humongous dump trucks. What’s the deal (as Jerry Seinfeld would say) with all of those signs reading, “not responsible for falling debris,” and, “not responsible for broken windows,” etc. Does posting a disclaimer really exonerate a person from accepting responsibility for their actions? I reckon I even thought so, at one time, since I would hang up a couple of “not responsible for accidents” signs whenever my lovely wife fancied having a garage sale at our house. Regardless, I don’t care if the truck has a sign or not because if the load is too big, not secured, or if the bumper’s debris had not been properly brushed off then I positively will hold the driver of the truck accountable for any damage done to my vehicle.

Recently, I realized I was searching for someone, other than myself, to blame for my own carelessness, so I’m painfully aware how tempting it sometimes can be trying to shirk responsibility and falling prey to the blame game. I came home one day, after a refreshing morning at Starbucks, to find a traffic cone placed at the end of my driveway. The City of Peoria had previously sent out flyers warning the neighborhood they’d be repaving our streets, one lane at a time, so I knew the orange pylon meant our side of the street was to be repaired first. I moved the cone, parked my wife’s car in the garage, and then purposely repositioned the rubber pylon in approximately the same spot. After a while I decided to run some errands since the city had not yet started their project.

I backed out of the garage and was quite startled when I felt (and heard) a “clunk,” but of course I instantly knew what had transpired. I had completely forgotten about the traffic cone, and I had not seen the small structure in any of the mirrors when backing out. I quickly got out of the Hyundai to assess the situation. The Elantra appeared to be fine, but the orange pylon was significantly bent underneath the car’s frame. I was unable to remove the cone with my hands because it was wedged in there so tightly that it would not budge, so I pulled the vehicle forward a bit and…ta-da. No harm, no foul, or so I thought.

The next week my wife was leaving work and noticed the rear panel of her Elantra was slightly split at the seam. It did not take a genius to figure out how the damage may have happened. We took the fairly new vehicle to the Hyundai dealership since the car was still under warranty. I showed the service department representative the split seam, but I did not offer an explanation as to how it may have occurred. The representative gave the entire backend of the car a thorough once over (mainly with a confused look on his face). He concluded, after finding a few scratches down low, the Elantra must’ve been hit; therefore, it would not be covered under our warranty. The service department representative also informed us they would have to replace (not repair) the whole back panel, and he gave us a $1,000. estimate to fix the car. I was utterly in shock.

The blame game had officially begun. I rationalized the destruction done to the vehicle was the City of Peoria’s fault. Someone on the city’s payroll after all was the one who originally positioned the traffic cone in my driveway. In addition, if they would have begun resurfacing our street immediately, after placing the pylon, I never would’ve even considered leaving the house that day to run inessential errands. I then reasoned if the city wasn’t responsible then surely somehow the Hyundai dealership was at fault for not honoring the warranty. Ultimately, I came to my senses and stopped searching, for someone else to blame, and I finally admitted I was solely responsible for the damage done to my wife’s Elantra. I’m certainly disappointed I chose to dabble in the blame game, but at least in the end I got it right.

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2 responses to “Responsibility…And The Blame Game

  • Barry L. Blackstone

    Jim, I used to be a police officer in Michigan in the early 1970’s. I noticed, with dissapointment, kids taken home because they has been shoplifting or some other illegality, aided and abetted by parents that would say , “My child wouldn’t do something like that.” When that happened I knew where the responsibility laid.

  • Marlena Ray

    Enjoyed this read! Very well written …

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