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McCoy: My Permanent Record
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All through school, I heard about my "permanent record." Teachers used to say, "It will follow you everywhere you go." Like most kids, I assumed this permanent record thing was a detailed picture of my entire educational existence. I assumed if I was late coming back from the bathroom, someone would scribble that down for posterity. "Mr. McCoy, I know you’re 95, but we can’t take you into our nursing home. Your permanent record says you ‘lingered in the washroom’ on Thursday, April 22, 1971. Sir, we just can’t have your kind in our facility!" The permanent record was presented as a fearful device that made Santa’s naughty list pale by comparison, and we lived in fear of this heinous invention, one that was alleged to be unforgiving and unrelenting.

The funny thing is that the permanent record’s power was just a grand myth. When I was pursuing a Ph.D. in The Netherlands (don’t ask), I had to provide a copy of all my academic records, including those from high school. Here I was, with a master’s degree, and yet I was forced to dredge up ancient history, a permanent record that really was following me. I had a copy sent to Rotterdam, and I ordered a copy for myself. "Wow! My permanent record! Let’s see what delicious facts are in here!" And that’s when reality hit. My permanent record was full of grades, and attendance statistics, and standardized test scores, but it didn’t have any of the important details of my school life.

There was no record of the times my heart had been broken. There was nothing about the friendships I’d made. There was no mention of the pep rallies I’d attended, the great school lunches I’d eaten, and the amazing football plays I’d watched.

No information about the sweaty outfits I wore during P.E.? No record of the science experiments I’d done? No transcript of all the jokes I told in the parking lot after lunch? No. None of the good stuff was there. It was just a few pages of grades and numbers and a few handwritten comments. It was basically useless information about things that don’t matter. I guess I was surprised by what wasn’t in the permanent record, but I have to say I was very pleased to see there was no mention of "bathroom lingering." I might need to go to a nursing home one day, and I can’t afford a bad reputation.




David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington. He can be reached at