Catching Up

Kenny was 61 years old when he walked into his old high school principal’s office. Behind the desk was Miller Roberts, 20 year younger than Kenny. Roberts wore a red Izod shirt and beige Docker pants. His hair was styled like an actors.

Roberts looked up from his desk as Kenny stepped in.

“Mr. Roberts,” Kenny said. “I’m Kenny Akers. I got a call that you have my diploma for me.”

“Yes, Kenny,” Roberts said. “I have it right here.” Roberts swiveled in his chair and pulled a large brown envelop from the shelf. “I think you’ll find your diploma inside.”

“Thanks a lot,” Kenny smiled shyly. “It’s been a long time comin’.”

“You might want to take a look at it before you leave to be sure everything is in order,” Roberts said.

Kenny pulled the diploma out of the envelop. He smiled proudly. “Yep, looks all official.”

“May I ask you a question?” Roberts said.

“Fire away,” Kenny said. “What prevented you from getting a diploma almost 45 years ago?”

“I was 16 years old and in the eighth grade,” Kenny said. “I came back my freshman year. Nothing was clickin’ for me. I turned 17 and joined the Navy. That’s about it.”

“What happened to put you behind?” Roberts said.

“Well, when everybody was in kindergarten my daddy was takin’ me fishin’,” Kenny said. “He wasn’t much on education. So when I had to go to school I started in the first grade. Those kids I was with all ready had a year up on me. It seemed like I was always behind and tryin’ to catch up.”

“That’s a sad story, Kenny,” Roberts said. “But you stuck with it and got your diploma. You’re a credit to anyone that’s under privileged.”

Kenny scratched his cheek. “Thank you for your kind words, Mr. Roberts.”

“You’er quite welcome, Kenny,” Roberts said piteously.

Kenny left the office and Roberts immersed himself in the paper work on his desk. He felt rather proud of how he sent Kenny on his way.

“Mrs. Kravitz!” Roberts called to his secretary.

She came to the door, “Yes, Mr. Roberts.”

“Did you see the gentleman who just left?” Roberts said.

“Yes,” Mrs. Kravitz said.

“He’s what make our jobs rewarding,” Roberts said. “A man who has been at a disadvantage all his life. I was able to place a diploma in his hand. You should have seen the gratitude in his eyes. We made his day. Now he can live out his remaining years knowing he has a diploma.”

“You didn’t recognize him?” Mrs. Kravitz said.

“No,” Roberts said. “Should I?”

“You’ve never hear of Dr. Kenneth Akers?” Mrs. Kravitz said.

“That’s him?” Robert’s said. “How did…”

“While in the Navy he read everything he missed in high school,” Mrs. Kravitz said. “He took a college entrance exam and scored so high they never thought to ask about a high school diploma.”

Suddenly Kenny was back and leaned through the doorway of Roberts office.

“Hey if ya don’t mind,” Kenny said. “I’d like ta pass sometin’ on, maybe help encourage a kid that’s a little behind.”

“Sure,” Roberts said eagerly and standing at his desk.

“Once ya get all caught up it’s a snap,” Kenny said napping his finger.


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