Once upon a time, I went to BYU.
Then, after three years, my freshly acquired husband and I decided to move to Texas (warm! fun! good schools! cheap housing!).
Thanks to choosing the shortest major there was (history), only three classes stood between me and my first academic diploma (I didn't graduate from high school). And all of those classes were offered online. After I moved to Texas last year, I enrolled in those classes, ordered the books, and pushed myself through those nine credits (pssst. . .online classes, while excellent in theory, are rather unwonderful, and I would highly recommend skipping them if possible). I took my last final in January, and we celebrated by eating raw fish. It was a really fantastic day.
Of course, I had to wait until the end of April to be officially graduated, seeing as how they don't really care to just mail out diplomas any old time. They want you on their time table. And, since they are the holders and distributors of the diplomas, you must go along with it. Also, when they say you must pay $15 for the privilege of receiving the diploma you've already paid thousands of dollars to get, well, you go along with that too.
I waited for my diploma.
And then, instead of a hefty envelope protecting my diploma from bending, tearing, or crumpling, I got a thin little envelope saying "Congratulations on graduating! What an accomplishment! We are so proud! Also, you owe us ten more dollars for mystery fees and if you don't send it in a brown paper bag in unmarked bills, you'll never see your precious diploma again."
So what was I to do? I called up, gave them my credit card number, and paid the ten dollars.
And then the waiting began in earnest.
Every day, I'd check the mail.
Every day, nothing.
Repeat for dozens of days.
Finally, I called BYU Records and asked what had happened to my diploma. The lady looked up my records and told me I had a $10 fine. Yes, yes, I'd heard that line. I told her I'd paid it already. "Oh, I'm so glad you've called!" the nice lady on the other end told me. "You see, the financial office doesn't notify us when someone has paid their fines, so we have no way to know if your diploma should be mailed unless you contact us personally." Then I melted the phone with the fiery anger of my eyes.
She said she'd put the diploma in the mail.
And the waiting recommenced.
After two more weeks, I called again. A charming young man named Mike told me it had been mailed on July 4. I didn't ask WHY they'd waited nearly 10 days after I'd called to put it in the mail. I didn't ask why anyone was even working on the 4th of July (BYU takes off Pioneer Day, for heaven's sake; not the 4th of July?). I just thanked him politely and then wept into my cell phone. Perhaps someday, when my children were graduating from college, my diploma would arrive.
Today, when we pulled up to the house after work, I told Bart that my diploma was here. I could feel it; we should get the camera to record this moment for posterity. Bart laughed, since I've said something like this every day for the last month.
But, when we opened the mail box, there was a key inside, for the parcel box. We opened the parcel box. . . . . .
Inside sat Bart's recent purchase from amazon.com.
And my diploma envelope.