It happened over a decade ago. I was in grad school in a small town. The people were predictable, and I was bored. Most days, I would leave school by five and be at the bar by six. Sometimes I talked to people, sometimes I brought them home. But largely nothing really interesting happened. I was stuck.
I had drunk a pitcher by myself that night, leaving some time before close. Walking through the parking lot, I suddenly needed to know what it would sound like to pop a tire. I had to know if it would really pop or just swoosh. I took my Swiss army knife—I always had it on me those days—and jammed it into the driver’s tire of a beat-up 70s Chevy. It was disappointing. Just a pfffft and it was over. So I thought maybe it was an anomaly—the next one would be better. One led to two which led to three which turned to four and the car just went plop. Of course, I shouldn’t have expected anything more than a slow leak in that town.
The next morning I realized what I had done. I felt so bad. It was just some beater car, some guy just trying to get by. I made it all the worse.
In life, I did okay. I have a good job, I own my own home, and I volunteer in the community. But that night still causes me guilt.
I’m not a bad person, even though I did something bad. It’s just not who I am.