The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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My Uncle Steve was told that he couldn't return to college at Penn State for his sophomore year because his GPA was a 1.99 instead of a 2.00, which is required to stay enrolled. He thought that he had figured it out and gotten back in, but when he arrived at the office after a long car drive, he was told he wasn't able to stay. This is what followed. 
Picture of college-aged Steve provided by Steve Epstein

“You can’t be here.”

She was a short lady, maybe around forty years old, wearing a god-awful brown dress and an impossibly tight bun atop her stern face. Not that she could be blamed; being a secretary in the Office of Admissions of Penn State during enrollment doesn’t lend itself to peachy demeanors.

If her face was stern, nineteen-year-old Steve’s-- wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and not caring about the three suitcases that had just dropped from his hands--was pissed. He had done everything he needed to do. Ever since the call from Dorothy Carol in administration, the one about how his GPA was just barely under what it needed to be to stay enrolled, he had made sure of it. He had called his professor and convinced him to raise his grade to a B. He had called admissions and made absolutely sure that he was back in. And now this cranky old woman in an ugly dress was telling him he wouldn’t be able to come back. Like hell he wasn’t.

“I put in my time. My GPA’s above 2.0. I just drove 6 hours and left my girlfriend and brother back home. I’m staying here. I’m not going anywhere.”

He realized his finger was jabbed against the secretary’s desk. She glared at him, and her wrinkles intensified.

“You don’t belong here. There’s nothing I can do.”

Steve’s face flushed. Without looking away, or even moving his finger, he yelled:

“Mrs. Carol!”

He felt the students behind him shuffling their feet and sighing, but he didn’t care. He was getting a dorm, and he was signing up for classes. No secretary was going to stop him.

“Steven?”

There she was, coming down the hallway that extended past the secretary’s desk, his guardian angel: Dorothy Carol, holding a messy stack of papers in one hand and wiry reading glasses in the other.

“You said if I got my math grade to a B I could get back in.”

She looked confusedly from secretary to Steven and cocked her head.

“Yes, that’s what I said…”

“Well, I don’t think that Ms…”

An awkward glance at the secretary.

“Johnson.”

“I don’t think Ms. Johnson got the memo!”

Dorothy slapped her hand to her forehead.

“I must have forgot to pass it on. Sorry Steve. Just come back with me to my office. We’ll get this settled.”

He stomach returned to its proper place and his face to its proper temperature. As he bent over to pick up his bags, an idea popped into his head and he just couldn’t help himself.

Behind Carol’s back, and as she led him back to her office, he turned to the secretary and flipped the bird.

“I’m staying.”

I’m Staying

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Fall 1980
Penn State Abington Campus

My Uncle Steve was told that he couldn't return to college at Penn State for his sophomore year because his GPA was a 1.99 instead of a 2.00, which is required to stay enrolled. He thought that he had figured it out and gotten back in, but when he arrived at the office after a long car drive, he was told he wasn't able to stay. This is what followed.
Picture of college-aged Steve provided by Steve Epstein

Decade: 1980s
Rating:
Recorded by Benjamin Harowitz on June 7, 2018
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