Last Updated on February 17, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 397
In “Taking Attendance,” Albom recalls his time in England covering the Wimbledon tennis competition. Albom is juggling a number of jobs for newspapers, television, and radio stations while in England; this has become routine in his life. On the stands in front of the venue, he sees tabloids that speculate about the British royalty. Looking at these articles, Albom finds himself recalling Morrie’s advice about not buying into a culture that fails to help you.
For many years, Albom has found satisfaction in his work, and only recently has he begun to realize that this is misguided. Now, when he looks around him, he sees people chasing the wrong things, like a group of tabloid photographers chasing tennis players and their celebrity girlfriends. One of them even knocks Albom down in his rush to get a photo. Seeing this tabloid culture, Albom recalls Morrie’s approach to life and how the professor focused on “human activities” like conversation and affection rather than “silly activities” like television sitcoms or celebrity gossip.
When Albom returns to Detroit, he discovers his union has gone on strike. He is suddenly out of work for the first time in years, and his union representative warns him against contacting his editors. Instead of covering sports, he is watching them at home. Although he had long prided himself on his newspaper column, claiming that it made him feel alive, Albom is discouraged to discover that no one seems to care that that the column is no longer in print. Finding himself curiously irrelevant and idle, Albom ends up calling his old mentor, who invites him to visit.
The second half of “Taking Attendance” describes how Albom and Morrie’s relationship continued during the author’s sophomore year at college. He was now taking two classes with Morrie, and they often spent time together outside of class visiting and discussing life. A younger Mitch Albom shared with his mentor his dream of becoming a pianist. Although Morrie described it as a hard life, he encouraged Albom to follow his dream. However, this is exactly what Albom has not done. Perhaps ironically, he abandoned his dream of becoming a pianist after his uncle died of cancer. Now that his professor is dying of ALS, Albom is discovering that he has overcompensated in adjusting his values in the wrestling match that is the tension of opposites.