Not many, but there are a few expressions I find irritating. A stand-out is that insolent collective, "you guys." Go for it in Los Angeles and New York if you must. But from Houston to Charleston, from Nashville to Mobile, please, y'all, it's not "you guys", it's the neighborly, courteous, mannerly "y'all."
Another is, "what brought you to Mississippi?" And "how'd you end up here?" A fast car and a one-way ticket brought me here. And with the rewards of living in the adventure of Mississippi, past, present and promised, it's not an "end up," it's a "start up."
Then we have, "where were you educated?" A question, I suppose, about what college I attended. Two of them, actually, with a degree from each, an "education" from neither.
There were never enough, but a few rewarding opportunities for me to establish meaningful dialogue with men and women smarter than I am. (I could have, should have initiated more; would have had I been tuned in to what makes good universities good.) But mostly I let it be a one-way, passive session of absorbing information and instruction. Important, of course, for my intended profession; the diplomas did become "tickets of admission" to that.
But my education, although boosted somewhat in school, followed graduation. Navigating the shoals of those schools was difficult at times, but highly structured. Not so, later on; a struggle of making decisions in a chaotic torrent of baffling information. A cascade requiring all the analytical evaluation which my fledgling mind could muster. An imperative to listen, to acquire a breadth of vision for prioritizing and selecting from all that "knowledge" the few pearls of value from the mire.
To begin composing a base of understanding and wisdom. To think critically, to reason persuasively and logically ..... to become educated.
I did not endure that university time just to master all the right answers. Those I could either remember or look up after distinguishing the ones worth looking up. More importantly, I researched developments in my field. And learned to express pertinent questions, then pose them to people of substance, resources of character, whose replies would have significance and merit. Those replies being tough questions coming back to me. Shrewd inquiries soliciting a commitment to excellence ..... an educating experience.
So, have I become a professional who always performed my work well; who grew more skillful at it and been ever graceful and pleasing in the performing of it? In all likelihood, not. But that would be because my education is incomplete. It has been, and continues to be an expedition of discovery, of learning, networking, maturing and managing well the circumstances which I encounter.
To be as aware of my limitations as of my capabilities. To possess quality judgment in meeting those circumstances with dignity, neither spoiled by success nor dismayed by misfortune.
Joseph Goodell is a Northsider.