Tag Archives: Judge Judy

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.

That Was Embarrassing

I would venture to say everyone has been embarrassed at one time or another. I would expand on that statement by adding there are many levels of humiliation, ranging from slight to extreme, and once in awhile the people witnessing another person’s blunder may be more embarrassed by the situation than the actual offender is. For example, one time during a church service a worshiper’s cell phone went off at the most inopportune time. I could not help but cringe, while he fumbled around with the annoying device, until he ultimately got it turned off. Afterwards, he might not have given his faux pas another thought but because of the embarrassing situation, at least to me, he will forever be known as “the rude cell phone guy.” Many people no longer appear to be shocked, or even that concerned, when a cell phone rings during a church service, theater production, wedding, or even a funeral because it’s now all too commonplace in today’s society.

Some of our awkward moments could be avoided altogether if we’d simply learn to listen better, instead of pondering a reply, while the other person is still talking. As Judge Judy would say, “There’s a reason why we have two ears and only one mouth.” I’ve been guilty, like many I presume, of anticipating someone’s words before they’re spoken; therefore, incorrectly responding to them since my brain did not have the time to completely digest what was really said. For instance, one time when I was leaving a Starbucks, after purchasing a cream-cheese danish, I assumed the employee behind the counter was going to say, “have a nice day,” as she had done so many times before. However, my well-rehearsed, “you too,” became quite irrelevant after I realized this time she had actually said, “enjoy the danish.” Since I couldn’t go back in time I hurriedly continued towards the exit hoping she somehow didn’t hear what I had just said. I think that would qualify as only a small infraction on the embarrassment scale.

I’ve experienced a few embarrassing moments, at some of the different levels, during my lifetime. There is the commonly committed improper reply, as previously discussed, and then there’s the moderately embarrassing accidental fart ripped while stretching, during team warm-ups, before a freshmen football game. I have even experienced the dreaded, red-faced doozy. I’m comfortable enough in my manliness, although not quite to the extent of wearing pink out in public (like my father), to share one of my most humiliating moments with you. It happened not too long ago during my one year of higher learning. I’m a very routine type of guy (borderline O.C.D.), so I became a bit confused during the last week of my first semester in college when most of my class times had temporarily changed. The new times were designed for taking a final exam or for simply handing in a term paper, but either way the class times were shorter than usual.

My English class was over at least a half an hour earlier than normal, and I had forgotten my next class wasn’t to begin for awhile, so I preceded to my Sociology class. To my surprise, after opening the door, the professor was already lecturing, and someone was occupying my assigned seat. This situation might not have been so drastic except the teacher was extremely strict, and she absolutely detested interruptions of any sort. You might as well not even show up to her class if you were going to be late, unless you were a glutton for humiliation, because her typical response was to immediately stop speaking and to intently stare at you until you found your seat. She would pause for several seconds, although it seemed like an eternity, as she coerced an exaggerated look of frustration onto her face before asking her famous question, “Now what was I talking about before being so rudely interrupted?”

As a responsible adult I whole-heartedly agreed with the importance of being on time, and not interrupting a class, but unfortunately for me (undoubtedly her prized pupil) that notion of hers applied to students arriving too early to class as well. I stood there motionless, like a deer caught in headlights, trying to grasp what the heck was going on. Several awkward seconds went by until the professor, sensing my confusion, finally informed me that I was to be in her next class. I blindly felt behind me, for the doorknob, while looking directly at my visibly disappointed teacher. I then gradually opened the door and slowly began backing my way out of the classroom. I somehow managed to force a partial smile and mumbled the word, “sorry,” while closing the door shut. I was still able to hear the entire classroom erupt with laughter. That was embarrassing!

Snakes And Bulls

Last month a Kentucky Preacher, Jamie Coots, died shortly after being bitten by a rattlesnake and then not seeking medical attention. The star of the reality television show, Snake Salvation, was handling the reptile during a church service when it attacked. I can’t even begin to comprehend the thought behind handling those scaly creatures, especially in a church setting, because if I remember correctly the slithering snake in the Garden of Eden was up to no good. Mr. Coots had previously been bitten by other snakes during his career, but he was very vocal on his stance that they could not kill true believers of God. I guess the now former pastor either did not have enough faith, or more likely he was just plain wrong in his way of thinking.

There’s quite a difference between belief and absurdity; however, that knowledge seems to be lost in this case because the son of the late Mr. Coots has taken over the pastoral duties of the church, and he insists on handling the exact snake that took his father’s life. I can’t say I’m a fan of any snake, and just the thought of watching the movie, Snakes on a Plane, raises my blood pressure a bit. There has to be some sane reason why God created the ugly reptiles, but I haven’t figured that one out yet. I think it takes a certain kind of courage, or possibly mere stupidity, to even be in the same vicinity as them. The Coots Family defends the “killer snake.” They eagerly divulge that the snake was raised by them, and it had never bitten anyone before.

This reminds me of so many Pit-bull attack cases I’ve seen on Judge Judy. The owner of the aggressive dog almost always says their pet is so sweet, gentle, and would never hurt anyone. That is until it eventually tears someone to shreds. The truth as I know it is that all dogs with any Pit-bull blood in them whatsoever should be euthanized for the safety of all humans. That is coming from an animal lover, excluding cats of course, who is against animal exploitation of any kind. I am the guy who roots for the bull at rodeos. I also have no sympathy for those who are trampled on, or gored, during bull runs. Having a healthy fear of all wild animals seems like common sense to me.