paint smear on car fenderWhile we have a role in our interactions and experiences with others, and can choose how to respond, certain situations call into question the concept of responsibility.

I had parked my car at the local garage for a trip and upon my return, found what initially looked like soot on the front right side. Seeing a sign upon my departure that said “we are not responsible for any damage”, caused me to drive away “assuming” the parking garage wouldn’t help in any way. That meant the responsibility would fall to me.

My first responsible step was to ensure there was nothing corrosive and I used some cleaner to check further. It removed the soot but not the stain. Next, I contacted a detailer who was unable to remove the stain, and suggested I contact an auto body shop. I talked with two, and both indicated the car would need to be repainted. No one could figure out what the substance was, but it seemed like liquid concrete.

After seeing the cost to re-paint, I started wondering. Since I parked the car in a different location than usual based on the directions posted by the parking authority, did they really have no responsibility? To limit the damage to my car I went ahead with the re-painting, but still continued to wonder.

I spoke to someone with legal knowledge who suggested I contact the parking authority. I wrote a letter and included pictures. The letter was forwarded to an insurance company, who eventually came back with an answer – the alleged spot was not the garage’s responsibility.

I had some interesting thoughts upon reading the word “alleged”, including why would I waste my time writing a letter about the damage, if the alleged spot had happened elsewhere? However, after some initial online searches, I opted not to pursue any further action. I did send a follow-up to ask if the parking garage wanted to know of this situation if it were to happen again. While I heard nothing back, the next time I parked there, the kind of concrete column I had parked next to was blocked off. I found that intriguing.

In my note, I had also included question about what steps I could have taken for the spot to have been real and not “alleged”. Not surprisingly, I never heard back, and continued to ponder what to do next because I was still annoyed. Then I came upon something interesting. An article further clarifying this type of situation – indicating it was calcium – like glazing on a doughnut. And yes, that’s what it looked like. According to the article, the person used a product that took off the residue, and there were further recommendations including WD-40, nail polish remover, and mineral spirits, among others.

It appears this is a common problem, as water in parking structures runs through concrete. In this particular posting, the person was able to get reimbursement from the garage because they did take responsibility.

In what areas of your life are you blaming or deflecting responsibility onto others? In what areas are you keeping the blame on yourself, rather than giving someone else the responsibility that belongs to them? You can learn more about diving deeper into the themes of responsibility by contacting me at

© 2018 Systems of Change, LLC