Thursday with Mitch

Descriptive Transcript

Mitch Albom: I'm on a tour that goes about three months and, and pretty much a different city every day. And sometimes you don't know exactly where you are, and it really wasn't until like, I kind of looked at the ticket this morning and said, oh I'm going back to Brandeis. And it reminded me of when I, how I actually ended up here. Someone asks that all the time. I didn't grow up in Boston. I didn't know a whole lot about Brandeis, so I don't often tell the story, but mine as well with the crowd here. So here you go. Here's how I ended up at Brandeis. I was in 11th grade and my, I was going to a private school, which was costing my parents a lot more money than they wanted to pay. And so they said to me, you know, you could actually graduate early, and you could go to college, instead of taking your senior year in high school.

And I said, Well, okay, why would I do that? They said, Well, you know, the money that we could save on your not having to go to your senior year of high school, maybe we could put towards getting you a car. And I said, okay that sounds like a pretty good deal. I think I want to do that. So this was like in September of my junior year of high school. And so I had to very quickly do all the testing and all the rest of that stuff that you have to do. I actually took my SATs before anybody, before I took my PSATs. And I started to go through the college book because I didn't know a whole lot about colleges. And so I started with the A's. And I ended up applying to two schools, Brandeis and the University of Chicago, because I didn't get past the C's in the book. That's as far as I got. And so I applied to those two schools.

And I was lucky enough to get into those two schools early on in the process. And so I went to go visit the schools. And when I was, it was like January, mid January, something that I got to do this visit and so first I went, I lived in Philadelphia, so first I went to Chicago. And at the University of Chicago, they don't take their finals until after they come back from their break. So I went to Chicago, and I arrived when they were taking their finals. And it was like minus four degrees, and it was snowing and cold, and everybody was inside. And everybody looked really nerdy. And and, you know, no, there was nothing going on socially. And so I stayed there for a couple days. I said, Okay, I guess that's what college looks like. And then I got on a train from Chicago to Boston. And I went from Chicago to Boston and got out and came up here. And it just so happened that even though was late January, it was a warm day, and the semester had just started here. So nobody was taking finals or doing anything like that. So I came up that hill that I just drove up here again, and the first thing I saw are kids on the lawn, like throwing frisbees and laying back. I said, this is where I want to go. Little did I know that I would find out that come December, it pretty much looked like the University of Chicago when it was snowing and everybody was studying for their finals. But that's how I ended up at Brandeis.

I didn't know a whole lot about it. I didn't have much background in it. I knew that it was, it was, it was a small school, it was a good school. And that was it. But as I told the crowd a little earlier at the reception and as I said to Lisa, I had a fantastic time here, and I'm not one of those people who disses on his alma mater, or has to make up stories to make it sound better than it was. I really cherished my time here and not only for friends that I made, and the the ability to walk up and down at a campus where you sort of knew everybody, but also obviously, in a profound way, I made a connection that changed my life inexorably and that was to meet a professor named Morrie Schwartz, who at my very first class with Morrie, and this is a story that you might not know either, I signed up ahead of time for a class with Morrie before I even got here as I was a first semester freshman. And I entered this class. I don't remember what it was, but I remember it was up in wherever. What's the building that sociology's in? Helmand or something? I don't know.

Anyhow, wherever the sociology used to be. And I walked into his class, and there were nine kids in the class. And being a freshman, I immediately said, I can't take this class because if I cut the class, they'll know I'm not here. So I was actually leaving the class. This is a true story. I was leaving the class. I had kind of gone in the door. I was in the doorway and I was walking out to go to the registrar's office to drop the class. When Morrie began to call role. And one of the problems when your last name begins with A and he said, Mitchell, and I was in the door and I could have gone because he didn't know it was me. I could have just kept going to the registrar's office. And imagine if I had kept going to the registrar's office. I guarantee you I wouldn't be standing here in front of you right now.

Instead, I kind of slipped back in feeling totally guilty. And I raised my hand I said here, and he said, this the first thing that Morrie ever said to me, is it Mitch or Mitchell, which do you prefer? Now, that doesn't mean anything to you, I'm sure. But to me, I was kind of touched because I have one of those names that depending on what the teacher wants to call you, Mitch, Mitchie, Mitchell, that can be odd. So I said, well, Mitch, my friends call me Mitch. And Morrie said, All right, Mitch it is and Mitch, I said, Yeah. He said, I hope one day you'll think of me as your friend. So I knew cutting the class was out of the question in that moment.

But that began the relationship that I ended up having with Morrie which ended up spanning, you know, all four years. I took every class that Morrie taught, I ended up majoring in sociology, not because I was all that interested in it, to be honest, but I would have been ashamed to waste all those credits. And I basically majored in Morrie and if they had given out a degree in Morrie, I would have gotten it but they didn't. And by my senior year, and I told Lisa this, by my senior year, we've kind of run out of classes to take together and so we came up with the, I don't know if they still do it, but it was like an independent study honors thesis kind of thing. They still do that here? And such was the state of a liberal arts education in 1979 in the field of sociology that I was able to write and actually get credit for an honors thesis, whose title was and I'm not making this up, Football: Its Role In Society. Still the seminal work on that topic I want you to know and it's in your library there somewhere, my honors thesis, and that's what I left behind so, so I have a lot of great memories of all those things.

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