Unemployment can be an ironically busy time. It had been about 2 months, and I’d submitted job applications, filed for unemployment, scrounged up freelance work, visited my family, contemplated relocation, and tinkered with my LinkedIn profile more times than I could count. Lots of days had been good, but some of them laid waste to my heart, my head, my very sense of self. On those days, I was somewhere between screaming/crying, and packing a bag, liquidating my savings, and getting a one-way ticket to anywhere-but-here.
One morning after a particularly hard day, I promised to give myself a better start. So I went with an easy task: request my transcripts. Simple task + high probability of success = confidence booster. On a borrowed laptop (because mine was acting up), I pulled up the pages for my undergrad and graduate schools. Both had an e-transcript option. But not so fast. The department that issued substitute teacher certifications (my plan for the in-between time) would have no parts of the twenty-first century. They wanted hard copies.
The master’s degree was fairly recent, so I was still in the system. I logged on to request the transcript electronically. Incorrect password… Incorrect password… Incorrect pa—you see the pattern, right? I called tech support, and a very polite gentleman helped me reset. I logged onto the university site yet again (knowing the information by heart by now). Fields complete + payment made = transcript requested. One down, one to go.
I’d been out of undergrad for… a little longer, so I readied myself for more red tape. Miracle of miracles, I can electronically request a hard copy transcript?! First, I have to sign up for an electronic transcript delivery service (because, apparently, that’s a thing). Then, before I can request a transcript—which will require an e-signature, they need to have hard-copy, documented proof on file saying that I allow them to accept my e-signature when requesting a transcript.
But how would they get my documented approval on file? Well, there’s an approval form—an approval form that I have to print, sign, and put in the mail. So, to recap: I could either 1) send a hard-copy transcript request form through the mail with a money order, or 2) send a different form which states that I give the college permission to accept my electronic signature when I request a transcript online; then, I can electronically request a hard copy of my transcript and pay online. Long live efficiency!
I completed the transcript request form and headed to the post office. Before driving off, I sat in the car for a moment because I was already on edge. “Okay,” I said to myself but mostly to God. “Okay” is a question and an entreaty and surrender.
No line at the post office (Amen). The postal worker put my envelope in a priority mailer and asked all the necessary questions. I paid and left. I was tallying up the cost of this substitute teacher racket in my head as I turned back onto my block: $50 application fee; $5.75 for priority mail; $20.00 for 2 different transcri—I hadn’t included a money order! I just mailed a transcript request form and tried to pay for it with a “Please.”
I drove right past my house, turned the corner, and went back to the post office. There was still no line, but the clerk who helped me was on his way out. The “Next window, please” sign was already up and everything. Thankfully, he was still standing there. “Excuse me,” I said, “did you already process that mailer?”
“To Atlanta?” He said.
“Yes, that one.”
“Yeah,” (I’m dead.) “I still have it.” (Resurrection!)
“I forgot to put something in there.” My voice was doing something strange—it was on the cusp of a laugh or a cry. I was probably fidgeting too.
“Are you okay?”
“This is a flat-rate envelop, so we’ll just have to seal it again,” he said, carefully removing the tape.
“Can I buy a money order here?” I asked. He sighed audibly. “That’s what I forgot to put inside,” I explained. He sighed audibly again. Now I’m sure he’s joking, and I smile a little, too—probably for the first time all day. “I know, I know. I’m sorry.”
“You want a tranquilizer?”
“You got one?”
“Matter of fact, I do,” he said.
It’s a legit smile now. I purchased the money order, and he made sure I’d filled it out correctly. (After this episode, I wasn’t even offended that he checked my work.) I slipped the money order and the transcript request back into the priority envelope and watched him seal it for a second time. “That’s it?”
“That’s it. Have a good day, ma’am.”
It was a short walk from the post office back to my car, but it was long enough to hear a reply to my earlier entreaty: You can go back and fix it. If you humble yourself a little, you can just go back and fix it. I’ll even put people in place to help you fix it.
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