It’s Not My Responsibility

Apr 07th 2010

I’m going to vent for a few moments.  So put on  your vent goggles, I don’t want anything to get in your eyes.  I’m venting about… responsibility — as in taking responsibility.  oakley-tanner-hall-crowbar-snow-goggles

My mom and dad were here for about 9 days including Easter weekend.  It was great having them here!  They flew into Pittsburgh, so I picked them up the Monday of Easter week and they flew back home this morning.  I had a fairly full day planned for today — so last week, through Priceline I reserved a car for them…a one way rental…so they could drive to Pittsburgh.   I had a reservation and a confirmation.  I had numbers that were official stating that I would have a car.  I printed out my -ations with numbers and headed to Alamo.

You may have heard Alamo’s motto?  “No Waiting for Check-ins.”  Little did I know how they would fulfill their motto.  We got to the car rental place at the appropriate time, -ations in hand…  only to be told, “Sorry we don’t have a car to give you.”

  • “What?  You don’t have a car? I saw a whole lot of cars in the lot.”
  • “Yes but we don’t have any that you can take to Pittsburgh.”
  • “Oh you mean you don’t do one-way rentals?”
  • “No we do one-way rentals, but we don’t have one that you can take.”
  • “But I have a confirmation, reservation, numbers.”
  • “Sorry.”
  • “But how can you do that?  What are you going to do to make this right?”
  • “Sorry there is nothing I can do.  It’s not our responsibility.”

Now the conversation went on longer than that because I really couldn’t believe what I was being told.  But the essence was, “It’s not my responsibility.”  So I called Priceline.  I received profuse apologies.  In fact I am certain that the customer service reps are trained to apologize at ever possible point.  But the apology was always followed by a “but” as in “but there is nothing we can do,” or “but it’s not our responsibility.”  I tried everything I could.  I even asked to speak to someone higher up.  The gentleman told me that I was as high as I could go.  I guess I was speaking to the owner.  :)

Now as an aside because it’s part of my story, but not part of my point — So I drove my parents to the airport this morning.  We left at 5:30am (I went to bed about 1:30am).  Then on the way home my car died on 22 between Murraysville and Johnstown.  So I called AAA, waited an hour, then he towed me to a little garage in Johnstown.  I missed two appointments, but had a nice ride home with a friend who rescued me from a night spent in Johnstown waiting for my car.)

So here is the point — when no one takes responsibility, relationships get broken.  If either Priceline or Alamo had taken even a small amount of responsibility, they would have retained a customer.   With a “I’m sorry, we messed up, could I give you a coupon for a future days rental — or a chocolate-dipped cone from Dairy Queen (where did that come from?) our relationship would have been saved.  I would’ve said, “Ah shucks we all make mistakes, this one is going to cost me, but I appreciate your willingness to take responsibility.  Don’t worry I’ll work something out.”

If you go back and read the first story (Genesis — Adam, Eve — Garden) you will see that Adam’s major miscue was that at some point he said, “she’s (Eve) not my responsibility.”  I wonder how many good relationships went bad because no one wanted to take responsibility?  On the other hand, great leaders are those who take responsibility — sometimes even for things they are not responsible for…  I sat with some friends the other day to work through some relational issues, the relational breakthroughs always come when someone takes responsibility.

But you have to take responsibility for the right things.  Take responsibility for your character.  Take responsibility for the other persons’s unmet needs.  Take responsibility to serve.   Take responsibility for your mistakes or failures.  Take responsibility to forgive and to apologize.  Don’t take responsibility to point out their junk.  That’s just a more active way of saying, “I’m not responsible.”