Truly, it is a decade defined by improvisation.
Throughout those years, a person sits in a very peculiar sweet spot. On one hand, you are finally a full-blown adult, and you enjoy the freedoms and autonomy offered by that fact.
But you're also the most inexperienced version of adult that could possibly exist. And so you are rather clueless about the best way to live and be.
Anyone that age could use some wisdom and mentorship--someone who navigated that madhouse of a decade and recognized their successes and failures.
ReddBolt5 asked, "What should one do in their 20s to avoid regrets in 30s and 40s?"
Life is Malleable
"Always know that change is an option. Many people, myself included, start down a path and think that since I committed to that path, it's the only path for me. Don't get caught in that thought process."
"If a choice (career, location, relationship, etc) doesn't feel right down the road, know you can make a new one. It may be uncomfortable at first, but you can make it through (and likely for the better)."
Stay Above Water
"Don't get into credit card debt!" -- 8Gly8
"This sh** will ef up your life as much, if not more, than smoking or drinking or crappy eating etc."
"You can be taught how credit cards work, and it can still be hard to wrap your brain around, until it's too late." -- Go_Cart_Mozart
Knowledge is Power
"Learn how to budget. Even if it's just a simple excel or google sheets file with one column of income, and one of expenses."
"When you see everything you buy in a month next to each other, you realize where you can save money pretty well."
Take Care of That Outer Layer
"Sunscreen" -- greatredwoodofawhore
"long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists." -- radiogrill
"And don't go to tanning beds" -- raketheleavespls
In Their Prime
"Go see your favorite musical acts when they are young, together, and /or alive. and not selling out to fu** you price arena tours." -- classicsat
"I'll take this one further and say to just go see as much live music as possible."
"I don't regret any of the concerts I've been to in my life, but there are a bunch I regret NOT going to." -- ghettomagicrooster
YOU are the Only Constant
"Learn how to be independently happy" -- PGMG17
"I wish someone could have screamed this in my face with a megaphone whenever I was about to do something codependently stupid in my 20s and early 30s, lol." -- sulesko
"Make sure that if you have a relationship with someone you actually nail down the long term goals and agree on them... Like kids? How exactly will that work? Marriage?"
"Find your deal breakers and take them seriously... From 20-30 the time really flies and you don't want to miss it."
Go Where You're Good
"When choosing your job/profession/career, ignore the horrible life advice to 'follow your passion.' Instead, you should follow your aptitude."
"Identify what you are good at, find a way to use it to bring value to others, work like crazy to do that."
"The happiness/meaning/life-satisfaction will come as a result of being able to build a good life for yourself and those you care about."
Before Leaping Gets Harder
"If you yearn for adventure, go now. You are young, your body is strong, and your obligations are few. Go now."
"It's so much easier to drop everything in your life for a 6-month hiking trip and then slide back into regular life when you're 25 than when you're 35." -- LowCalPal
"I am grateful for everything I have but I wish I would have realized that there was another option to the regular old 9-to-5. I'm 43 now and physically limited due to an auto accident."
"You never know what life has in store so enjoy it to the fullest while you can." -- babyhaby
"Invest in yourself by making healthy choices both physically and financially" -- Kaste90
"Included in this: learn to cook." -- raketheleavespls
"So hard to do since people have a hard time showing any empathy for their future self." -- 5yn3rgy
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One of the most severe things that 2020 has taught me is that NOW is the time. For the first few months of quarantine, I woke up everyday in a panic about all the "time" I've lost. I'd watch all these news reports interviewing the people who had lost a loved one. That is my biggest fear but I refuse to allow it to be my biggest regret.
We've all seen too much death now to not start changing regret.
Redditor u/delete_my_comment wanted the medical workers out there to share with us the wisdom they've learned from the people they've witnessed leave this Earth by asking.... Hospital workers [SERIOUS] what regrets do you hear from dying patients?
Remembering Her....season 1 love GIF by NBCGiphy
He wished he had been a better father to his daughter. He wished they had reconnected. His dementia prevented him from remembering they had reconnected years before and that she visited often.
I wish I could have made him aware that he had accomplished his last wish. But he died not really understanding that.
He was one of my first patients as a nursing student, named Frank. He was 92. After knowing him a few days, he disclosed to me his regret was outliving everyone he loved... that he and his wife hadn't had kids, and he was "all that was left" and that he wanted to see his wife again. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I just listened... and it made me realize how living so long isn't great if everyone you love is gone.
He passed away later that week, and while I distinctly recall some of my classmates being upset, I felt relief for him. I knew he was where he wanted to be. I've had many patients since, but you tend to remember your first ones.
Other than that, ditto what everyone's saying, more time with family/loved ones, wish they wasted less time with work or other crap, etc.
It's never too late.
I worked in long term care for 12 years. I remember a married couple that shared a room. She had cancer and kidney failure. I was helping her eat lunch one day with her husband sitting there with us. She looked like death but her husband looked at her then at me and said have you ever seen a more beautiful woman? I had to leave and go to the bathroom and cry.
I cried for days every time I thought of what he said. I thought I would never know what it was like to be loved like that. I had been divorced for years. I couldn't even tell the story without tearing up. Footnote.... I was divorced 23 years when I met Rod. Been together for 11 years. I know that love now. It's never too late.
I was barely 21....
I worked as an oncology nurse right out of nursing school. I was barely 21 years old. Had a patient about my age who was dying of lung cancer. A few hours before he died I sat with him and he was telling me how much he wished that he would have had more time-to maybe fall in love, marry, have kids. He was so young. He asked me to call his parents and he died shortly after they arrived.
It was awful. His regrets were more about the life not lived. Many older patients had some interesting life stories and most wanted to tell them before they died. Most were at peace with the life they lived. Many regretted working so much and not spending enough time with family.
Goodbye....spirited away goodbye GIFGiphy
Some people just want you to let them go. I had a man with terminal cancer break down crying after his daughters left the room because they wanted him to "keep fighting" and he just wanted to rest and pass peacefully.
Learn when to let go.
In the ER it's not something most people see coming when they arrive but it's usually the same regret when they are coherent. They all wish their family was there (which sucks even more lately with Covid since family can't come in initially).
Or they cry out for their SO in a panic. It's gotten to the point recently where we tell them "SO" is right here with you." The look of relief on people's faces just hearing that gets me everytime. People just want to not be alone at the end.
When I'm Solo....
I was a new nurse, flying solo. We got a call for an incoming trauma, woman in her 50's involved in a multi-car accident. We were all ready at the ambulance bay, unsure of the woman's complete condition.
She rolled in breathing on her own, but very labored with asymmetrical chest expansion. She was profusely bleeding, had multiple deep lacerations, pupils blown, debris covering most of her, etc. Her vitals were unstable, she was circling the drain, we knew she was on the verge of coding... I was standing near her head, ready to assist in supporting her airway but also providing comfort and doing my best to calm her.
The woman looked me directly in the eyes and in a hoarse, labored voice stated, "I was angry, I told her I was disappointed in her." She began to cry, her vitals plummeted. "I'm sorry," was the last thing she said before her heart stopped. We coded her, intubated her, performed round after round of ACLS, only to eventually have to call time of death.
I still see her face at times, her eyes filled with more emotional pain than physical. It took much longer and was so much harder to write this than I thought it would be.
Hand me my Top Hat!
I was a hospice nurse. One of my elderly patients had skin cancer, a huge malignant melanoma on the side of his neck that was growing rapidly. He had been a farmer all his life and never married. One night we were talking and I asked him if there was anything he wished he had done differently in his life, and he thought about it a minute and said he wished he had worn a hat when he was farming. I wish he did too.
I did training to be a CNA and we had to work in a nursing home as part of our training. I didn't really get into any deep conversations with the patients there, but I can say this.... if you have family in a nursing home please visit with them. It's a sad and lonely place to be.
Love More....I Love Hearts GIFGiphy
I work in a hospital. Whenever someone is at the end of their life, they always just want to be with their loved ones. Any regrets I've heard is always family related. They wanted more time with the people they love. Most people are at peace with things though. People also tend to wish they took their health seriously.
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We all have dreams and we all make mistakes. Sometimes, the dream we follow turns out to be the mistake. One day you look back and think... "What am I even doing here? I hate teeth! Why didn't I pursue.... fill in the blank." We've all been there in one way or another.Redditor u/Shelliko wanted to know who has some regrets when it comes job choices that have been made by asking..... What career do you wish you had pursued?
Professional cat petter. As it stands, I'm an amateur cat petter. Don't get me wrong, it's a terrifically rewarding avocation, but I really wish I'd gone professional out of grad school.
I've always wanted to be a firefighter. However due to being born with a bad back, this is only a dream.
Being a firefighter in the US is extremely difficult even if you had a perfect background and qualifications. A single position could have 500+ applicants fighting for it, and many of those applicants include veterans and people with graduate degrees. Unless you have connections with someone in the department, it is basically impossible to become a firefighter. Regardless, I am sorry for you. It is unfair that some things are impossible for us out of sheer bad luck.
Anything creative. Not fine art, but animation or graphic design would be my top picks, or maybe something with programming. Instead of studying art, though, I listened to my parents and teachers and picked a science.
One psych degree and a whole lot of no progress later, I'm finally doing the creative field thing at 28 and wishing I hadn't spent so much time trying to be what I'm not.
Final Cut....head feels GIFGiphy
I had the grades to become a surgeon. I have always liked the skill required to cut up a person. It sounds like something I would enjoy. I just thought medical school didn't sound like it was worth it.
Safe from Home
IT. Specifically cyber security.
Probably would have been able to work from home.
Look up an example A+ certification test. If you can answer those questions, you already know enough for a lot of jobs. If you don't know how to answer them, then you know what you have to learn.
Merchant Navy! I'm still relatively young, so maybe one day.
I'm about to go this way. i'm a cadet (noa) on my second tanker and i really enjoy my time, even though i'm 100% sure that this is nothing everybody could do. being away from family and friends for months etc. and soooo much depends on the crew you're with. it can be rough to be on call pretty much 24/7 and working sometimes 14h a day. but for me, a person that never travelled much it's a nice way to see new places, and safe a little money.
Anyways corona makes sure you only see the ports and cant get out in the cities. i have made some friends and for most of them it's the money bringing them back. as a cadet i'm earning 1000€ a month which is quite need for something being part of my education, having food and a room included. as a captain/master the salary can go up to more than 10k and if you stay on board for more than 6months a year you can forget about taxes. so yeah to make and safe money it's definitely a good choice but not so much for social life/ family.
I've always wanted to be a chef but every chef I've talked to says it is incredibly stressful to be working in a small kitchen with a ton of people doing a ton of different things at the same time, with another chef yelling at you because there's people waiting for their food outside.
That sounds like hell.
I love cooking and experimenting with food and having people enjoy it but I don't think I could handle the pressure and stress that comes with it.
The law. Later in life I realized that I had the skills, and it would have been more affordable back then. Basically, I'm good at analyzing data and writing it down in a methodical way, and lawyers get paid a lot of money to do that, whether they're the ones who present it in court or not.
These days, I wouldn't. But back in the '70s and early '80s I'd have made serious cash and had the energy to work the hours.
I ended up using my skills in high tech and made good money. But I could have done the same in law in the SF Bay Area in the '80s and made amazing money.
The creative arts. I had considered it when I was in high school but didn't pursue it because I thought you had to be a creative genius to do those jobs (and I was unaware that Graphic Design and Digital Illustration were not the same thing) and I certainly was not a creative genius. I'm currently back in school trying to pick up a 2 year degree in Graphic Design/Illustration, but it's just not comparable to those who spent 4 years majoring in it and getting tons of classroom studio experience.
Human Studywriting listening GIF by South Park Giphy
Become a psychological human profiler. I'm fascinated by how we think and why do we do, what we do. If that makes sense!
A dermatologist. I had terrible acne as a teen but always enjoyed popping those bad boys. It didn't occur to me until almost 20 years later that I should have looked into dermatology.
StatsZach Galifianakis Reaction GIFGiphy
I would love to have pursued degrees in math and/or computer engineering instead of accounting. Everything I do now is self taught programming and stats. I just happen to understand what the double entry method is (outside of porn).
Field botanist... only realized 3.5 years into college with very little in the way of STEM coursework though and was ready to move on from college.
Always wanted to be an airline pilot. At the age of 29 I'm not sure whether it's worth doing.
I've always wanted to be a charter pilot. I'm 29 as well and have a good opportunity to start over right now. It's just so expensive and I have no idea if it'll be worth it. Wish I had skipped undergrad and just don't that instead.
Air traffic control. At 9, I hold my dad I thought I'd be good at that job. He growled back "those guys gets burned out".
Fast forward many years. I know current and retired controllers. Based on their stories, I would have loved that gig-----and been good at it. I loved what I did/do for a living, but I wonder how things would have been different.
When in Schooltech support digs GIF by FirstAndMondayGiphy
Something IT related. I'm going for it now, but I'm 25, and kicking myself for not having started in high school. I could have a livelihood by now if I had.
The Fighting Kind
MMA. I wish I would have done wrestling in high school as well as martial arts but my father would never let me as he did full contact fighting after he earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do and said it was too dangerous to let me start at such a young age. Then any time I ever asked again he just said the same thing.
I believe this stems from one of the guys in his class winding up in prison for accidentally killing a man with a kick to the temple outside of his house - he would be robbed constantly by the same person and eventually stood up to him one day.
A vet for big animals (like felines) or marine biologist! I LOVE animals, but science isn't really my forte, so I chose to become an interpreter (I'm still studying, I'm not officially an interpreter yet).
Garbage collector, politician, timber man, Baker are all jobs I think id enjoy. But I've always thought being the guy who trims the hedges along the champs elysees would be the greatest job in the world.
Sometimes, I wish I had chosen to go into industrial design. Get to be creative, have a stress-free, routine job where no lives are at stake, come home every night and only work five days a week.
But then I step out of my room, walk outside, and I see the ocean... nothing but ocean for miles and miles, and in that moment I feel like I chose the right career for myself.
For the PulitzerIm Out See Ya GIF by ADWEEKGiphy
Journalism. I was going to move to Montana with my sister and brother in law to study Journalism there, but my mother stopped me. Said she wasn't ready for me to leave home. Now I just write for fun.
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Though often a toxic place, the internet can be a positive resource that benefits human beings. A recent Reddit thread, in its own small way, proved the point.
The question revolved around life lessons. Anonymous folks across the internet were asked to share the most important truths and lessons that they'd recommend other people live by.
But there was one additional element that made the thread all the more compelling: a tinge of yearning and regret. These weren't just life lessons, but life lessons learned too late. That frames all of these good bits of advice as the fruits of strife endured for far too long.
It's good to know that these Redditors made it out of the valley. Hopefully we can listen enough to avoid it altogether.
rockothewallabee asked, "What is a lesson you learned too late in life?"
"I can do it myself. Now that we're in the digital age, I learned how to change my windshield wipers, trim my rabbit's nails, repair screen windows, replace my sub pump, etc."
"I always felt like I missed out learning hands-on thing because my dad checked out early. N'ah, girl, you can do that sh** on your own!"
Lonely in a Pair
"Being alone is less lonely than being married to the wrong person." -- RonSwansonsOldMan
"I'm going through the initial process of a divorce right now. We just listed our house for sale, and a wave of the painful reality just hit me. Been sitting here doubting myself as to whether I'm making the right choice."
"Might sound stupid, but this actually made me cry. I really needed to read this right now. Thanks." -- relationshipranttawy
Don't Over Invest
"You can't really help people who don't truly want to help themselves."
"Unless a person realizes, admits, and is receptive to being helped and helping him/her/itself, you're just wasting your energy and probably adding to your own stress."
It is YOUR LIfe
"That the disappointment of your parents will be far shorter lived than the unhappiness you'll endure by trying to make your life fit their perfect picture." -- BJntheRV
"This, this, this, and this. I used to feel guilty and diminish myself for not living the life my parents had envisioned for myself. But I luckily learned to let that sh** go" -- Mariamichelleevans
Head on a Swivel
"You can be the best driver on the road, but you can't control everyone else. Always keep your head up and drive safe." -- Strik3rr
"Use your turn signals, but do not trust anyone else using their turn signals. Lesson I still remember from driver's ed 30 years ago: there's only one thing you know for certain when you see a car with its turn signal on. They have their turn signal on. That's it."
"You have no way of knowing if they plan on turning, if they change their mind at the last second, if they just forgot to turn it off." -- John_Wik
A Resource to Love
"Listen to your grandparents' stories and ask them as many questions as you can about their lives and family history, etc."
"All 4 of mine passed when I was too young to truly appreciate any of the above."
Don't be Cocky, but Don't be Intimidated Either
"That I am capable of success. I spent so long doubting myself and not doing things because I didn't think I could." -- SexualMastery
"I'm guilty of this. I have a hard time picturing myself succeeding or accomplishing things, that I give up before I even try. Extremely defeatist. Its something I need to work on because its a terrible way to live." -- Bro_Hammer_5000
You Are Not on Their Minds
"That other people don't care what you think. They're more worried about themselves, and you aren't the first thing on their priority list."
"Could've saved so many headaches if I knew this years ago."
It's All Hanging On By a Thread Out Here
"That EVERYONE is making it up as they go along. Your teacher, parents, pastor, Army Generals, CEO's, everyone. No one has 100% true answers."
"However, success in life IS about being decisive. Get enough information to make an intelligent decision then confidently act on it. Others will THINK you have all the answers."
Let Them Go
"DONT BEG SOMEONE TO BE IN YOUR LIFE. PLEASE DONT!!!" -- rosyrosess
"Not in words, nor in actions."
"I've never begged verbally, but I absolutely have through actions. Staying with people through them being completely shi**y to me, allowing them to choose other people over me repeatedly. Allowing them to take advantage of me and always going back.. I wish I gave half a sh** about myself back then."
"Oh, the time and heartache I would've saved myself if I'd truly known better." -- Pennylick
We all did some stupid things when we were kids.
Sometimes, the ridiculous, uncalled for behavior was on purpose in the moment, but immediately regretted.
Other times, the horrifying deed occurred before we knew it. Once it happened, we were left to merely look at the rubble, powerless and ashamed.
However it went down, it sucked, and we will never forget it ever.
Some Redditors gathered to share the most messed up thing they've ever done.
A warning: lots of bathroom humor coming.
vaish34rana asked, "What's the most f***ed up thing that you have ever done?"
"I worked at a super shady telemarketing company right after high school. They made people think they were a charity but they weren't. They sold stuff supposedly assembled by handicapped people and I talked in a voice that led people to believe I was mentally handicapped so they would feel bad and buy from me."
"I've never hated myself more and I deserved to have my a** kicked."
Almost Got Away With It
"Silk underwear was a thing way back. I shat myself once while on a sled with my brother. I somehow managed to unzip and bury it while crying in anger and frustration."
"Mom found it while walking the dog. I cried again."
"I stole some Mother Theresa cards from our church and convinced my little cousin to go with me door to door selling them saying we were trying to raise money for the less fortunate. We then used that money to go buy snacks at 7-11."
"I was 12 and to this day I randomly wake up wondering wtf was I thinking. Doesn't sound like it's the most f***ed up thing ever but it did stick with me."
Pooping in Isolation
"I shat in the school's toilet , there's was no paper , so I wobbled to the sink to clean up , nobody came in , I was a lucky guy" -- ElegantChampionship0
"That's nothing. When I was a kid, I ate beads at a weekend day camp. The next morning at school, I decided to sh** in the urinal because the stalls were busy. Nobody ever knew who made the poo necklace but me." -- Lasermushrooms
"When I was a kid a friend of mine came over for pizza and left. I was upset that he didn't stay to hang out. Heard something at my window and it was him getting my attention asking if he could have the leftover marinara sauce."
"I said sure, slightly opened the little marinara container and tossed it to him. He had on a brand new Tommy Hilfiger winter jacket."
"My first year of college, there was a really annoying guy in my class. He was a total douche. One day he left class and my buddy and I saw that he left his book on the desk. We took it. Sold it to the bookstore and got burgers with the money."
"I helped him look for his lost book the next day for an hour."
A Severe Approach to Prank Calling
"A long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you could make prank phone calls, my friends and I called a random number. A woman answered and in a small child's voice I asked her if she knew where my parents were."
"I must have gone on for at least 5 minutes, asking for my parents, got all upset, the whole 9 yards. At the end I said I had to go and hung up on her."
"To this day that poor woman has no idea what happened to that little girl."
"My friend and I played poo dollar one Saturday evening on campus in college. Now the traditional way of playing poo dollar is to simply put a piece of poo, and smush it into a crumbled up dollar bill, and when someone finds it in excitement, they get poo on their hands. It's evil already by itself."
"However, a 3rd wanted to join in on the fun, and he's a huge Star Wars fan. He had a huge wad of fake $10 dollar bills with Jar Jar Binks' face on it. He won them as a kid at Chuck E Cheese. He said each bill was 5 tickets each, and bought a wad with the 100 tickets he won."
"He told himself as a kid that these would come in handy one day. Now mind you, these looked IDENTICAL to a $10 bill, except substitute good ol' Alex Hamilton for Jar Jar f***ing Binks."
"So this means that people would pick up this seemingly fake $10 bill in excitement, find poo on their hands, but find consolation in that it's still a $10 bill. But nope, we even took the consolation away. It was a fake Jar Jar Binks $10 bill AND you have poo on your hands."
Zero Childhood Chill
"I was 3 or 4 years old. Went to amusement park with family. Got into ball pit. Having a good time. Then, in the ball pit with me, I notice there's a kid with some kind of disability or illness, completely bald, with tubes coming out of his nose."
"I screamed, cried, and called him a monster and pointed until my parents came and got me out of the ball pit. I probably ruined some make a wish kid's whole day."
Not Ready for Caregiving
"When I was a kid I brought a caterpillar to show and tell and I kept forgetting to bring it leaves to eat so I accidentally f***ing starved it to death and I still deal with the guilt." -- jesseepeterson
"You have felt the guilt long enough. You are forgiven. Let this random internet stranger release you from this bond." -- Crowmega
"I kept a caterpillar in a little terrarium at home and it eventually turned into a cocoon. I ripped it off the tree and put it in a ziplock bag and brought it to school for show and tall. It fell off my desk at some point and a girl named Alyssa stepped on it. I still feel so guilty. It was over 20 years ago." -- suchafart
"Had one of those homemade stress balls with flour at a friend's house and I squeezed it way too hard and it burst everywhere so I just dipped and he got grounded for a week and made to clean up the mess" -- olliemills9
Keys to the Castle
"During middle school I hustled a little bit, you know buy cigarettes for a dollar and sell them for 2 etc. (Anyways the school had these rooms that you needed a key fob to open) A teacher walked by and dropped her fob so I figured I could sell it, I sold it to some random guy on the street for 60 bucks."
"(For a kid from a poor background who hustled for something to eat it was loads) I found out about a week later that the school was robbed, all the computers, books, basically anything of value. We found out that they got in from the staff entrance at the back, which needed... a fob."
"Still feel guilty about it too this day, it was a public school with little to no funding in a poor area."
"We had a marathon race the entire school. I was in second place most od the race and the guy in front of me would have won no doubt. Instead I told him it would be a good idea of we both ran across the finish line together. He agreed."
"Only for me ton run ahead just a few meters before the finish line. I won but in the most shi**y way ever. It was a good lesson though, if I cant win properly, I'd much rather come second."
Waaaay Too Much Evidence
"In kindergarten whenever I ran out of toilet paper in the stalls I would start wiping my ass with my finger and smearing the shit on the walls. I also would barely wash my hands."
"I got found out and was scolded by my teacher, the janitors, and the principal. My parents however still don't know."
"When I was young, maybe 4th grade, I was at a sleep over with a group of friends at my friend B's house. We were messaging another girl from our class, A and I said it would be funny if we told A that we had heard that B had been in a car accident and would never walk again."
"We played up the story, said B was currently in the hospital, doctors said the prognosis was bad, she might die...A was freaking out, B thought it was funny, I kept adding more graphic detail, thought it was hilarious."
"Until A called B's mom, who marched up stairs and told us off for being little sh**s. Which we were! I still feel horrible about it, little girls can cruel little idiots."
A Spectacular Failure
"I was 18 and still didn't have my license. I honestly didn't even know how to drive yet regardless. That didn't stop me from sneaking my girlfriend out of her house to get wasted at a motel party."
"When she needed to get home, I borrowed my friend's car to make the 4 mile round trip to her house. The whole time, I drove with the parking brake on and f***ed up her car. Then when I came back to the motel, I hit two parked cars HARD in the parking lot while several people saw as I tried to park."
"No one said shit to me though. It was in a seedy part of town so everyone just minded their own business. It's been 15 years and I still think about that. Don't drink and drive kids."