It happened when my boss brought two little gag voodoo dolls and a box of straight pins into our office, and hung them in the employee lounge. They were featureless little gingerbread shaped boy and girl figures with all sorts of innocuous maladies stenciled where various body parts would have been: like “not-tonight-headache”, “halitosis”, “pain in the arse”, “heartbreak of psoriasis”, “impotence”, etc.

One day, I got into an altercation with a sales rep who called on our company. Nothing serious, but after he left, I went into the lounge and joked to a couple of friends that I’d “fix him!” Then I picked up a pin and stuck it right into the center of “impotence” on the boy doll. The next afternoon we found out that the sales rep had been killed in the crash of a small plane. Yikes!

Now, I’m not superstitious about voodoo particularly or curses in general. I certainly didn’t want the man to die when I put that pin in the doll. Hey, it was a joke, alright? Okay. But on some level, aware or unconscious, I acted with the intention to harm. That doll represented a target and the pin WAS a weapon.

All actions have consequences. Everybody always bears responsibility for the consequences of their actions…and intentions. Whether they acknowledge that responsibility speaks to character and innate integrity.

For a long time, I didn’t tell anyone about the incident. Now that enough time has elapsed, I usually treat it as a humorous anecdote. But underneath the comedy lurks a darkness that bothers me still.