Scribe Hears Life-Changing (?) Comment

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Erika Mionis, Campus News Editor

It’s the most melodramatic TOM class in history. But what is the scribe thinking?

I have been a scribe for many years, and I absolutely love my job. Students’ energy is unparalleled, and I enjoy learning from discussions. On this day, however, I was in for an entirely unexpected turn of events. 

It was a TOM class, hosted post-lunch on a three-case day. I came to class fully equipped, knowing that today would be a rather complicated discussion with plenty of student questions. 

The professor guided the class through various analyses, encouraged questions, and moderated spirited debate. Throughout the course, I noticed a particular student in the front row sink farther and farther back in their chair. The professor paused briefly to check for class understanding. Then, they turned to the slumping student and surprised everyone with a mid-class cold-call.  

And that’s when the student spoke. 

I recorded the comment like I would any other, but I looked up from my laptop screen when I realized discussion had stopped. A stunned silence pervaded the room. Several students were blinking rapidly, while a few others moved their hands over their hearts. I looked from the students to the professor, bewilderment dawning.

The professor cleared their throat, stepped forward, and croaked, “Never, in all my years…”

The rest of the statement was lost to the roar of a slow but steadily building applause. The Skydeck stood. The student who spoke turned in his chair and acknowledged the ovation with a rather grave nod. I re-read my notes, now wondering what on earth I could have possibly missed. 

Class wrapped shortly thereafter, and I followed students from the room. The lawn was a scene of chaos. Huddles of students comforted each other as they continued to process their revelation. One student was on the phone with his mother, fighting back tears while sharing the insight. A second student dropped to her knees, running her hand through the grass. “Has it always been this green?”

Yet another student turned his head skyward, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. 

I had intended to head home, but was puzzled enough to halt and continue to observe. The student seated next to me in class noticed my hesitation and walked over for a brief chat. She looked at me with solemn eyes. “Things have changed,” she said, “We can’t go back to the way things were, not after that.”

I blinked a few times, confused by her meaning. The kid’s comment? About cranberries?

I made my way home, shuffling through the door as the sun started to set.  

My husband greeted me with a wave and turned in his chair. 

“Anything interesting happened in class today?”

I paused.

“…no, definitely not.” 

Erika Mionis (MBA ’23) is a Campus News Editor for The Harbus. She came to HBS from the aerospace industry, where she worked in operations at several manufacturing facilities. In her free time, Erika enjoys stand-up comedy shows, basketball, and bothering her three younger siblings.