'A' For Effort

Mar 14, 2014
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Next up, I am so thrilled 'cause now he is a regular on the SNAP JUDGMENT program - the modern-day renaissance man. He of several appearances on HBO "Def Poetry Jam." Rives, take it away.

JOHN RIVES: As a senior in high school, I only applied to one university. UC-Santa Cruz was the only school I wanted to go to. I was totally confident that I would get accepted. And I did get accepted. But the one condition was that I get a C or better in trigonometry, and I got a D. You know, chalk it up to senioritis or discovering sex that semester, but I got a D. And I was disgusted that this one little tick was going to totally ruin my life. I'd wanted to go off to college. I was resolved to change that D by any means necessary. I was editor of the high school newspaper. I had skills. So I went to a copy center, and I made a forgery of my transcript. I did a pretty good job. I changed the D to a C - simple paste up. Printed out a clean copy, put it in a gray folder and then took that forgery back to campus. And I knew what I needed 'cause this is something I couldn't forge.

In the admissions office, there was this stapler-looking device that imprinted transcripts with an embossed seal. There's always some sophomore girl at that desk, and I figured I'm going to, you know, get her in cahoots. I'm going to distract her. I'm going to seduce her if I must. It's going to be easy. When I showed up at that door, I realized my miscalculation, and it rattled me. This was summer session now. That sophomore girl is at the beach somewhere. And behind the desk is Mrs. H. And that is like hearing that you will have to slay a dragon today. There is no distracting Mrs. H. I'm not going to be seducing Mrs. H anytime soon. So I walk over and ask Mrs. H for a transcript. And she asks me is it official? I say, no. She prints one out. I put it in the gray folder, and I turned to leave her office. When I get to her door, I realize what I could do, but I got to do it now. So I reach into the gray folder without looking, and I pull out the bottom sheet. That should be my forgery. And I figure it doesn't matter anyway. If I give her the forgery and she imprints it, I'll have it.

If I give her the real one and she imprints it, big deal. I'll just crumple it up and throw it away. I hand her the piece of paper and I say, wait, I am going UC-Santa Cruz. That's what this is for. Is that considered official? And Mrs. H, she's got this eye-rolling, kids-these-days kind of expression. She takes the piece of paper from me, and she imprints the embossed seal. And then she does something that I didn't expect. She puts it into an official envelope. She seals it with tape. She handwrites, not valid if seal is broken, puts the envelope in her outbox and says I'll address it and send it off this afternoon. My insides are quaking, and I'm seriously about to pee down my leg because if it didn't work, not only will my plan backfire, my plan is going to screw me. I turn. I walk out. I get to my car, and I open up the gray folder, and there's the transcript - trigonometry, D. There is a C on that other transcript. And right now that transcript is on its way to the University of California at Santa Cruz, just like me.

WASHINGTON: All right, Rives, just so you know, I felt compelled to let the dean know of your treachery. And he said you'll be getting a call early next week. We'll have a link to Rives's website shopliftwindchimes.com on our website snapjudgment.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.