Epiphany; or, Ode to Words

In a meeting the other day, the facilitator asked us participants what our passions were.  I immediately thought “Education,” and I eventually even volunteered my response.

And I believe that to be accurate.

I am passionate about education.  For my entire life I’ve worked solely in the education field, except for two brief forays into the food service industry.

For a couple of summers, I worked at a concession stand at a ballfield.  My friend’s parents owned the concession stand (at least that’s how I remember it), and I enjoyed working there with my friend.  I learned a lot about people, specifically Oklahomans, during my work there.

For example, did you know that if someone from Oklahoma asks you for a Coke, you have to follow the request with a clarifying question, so you’ll know which type of Coke the person wants?  He or she may, in fact, want a Sprite but used Coke as a generic term for soda.  The tricky part is, of course, that this use of the word Coke isn’t universal among Oklahomans.  You’ll just have to test it out to see which ones appreciate the further questioning and which ones simply find it annoying.

Then there was the week I worked at Hardee’s.  That was the worst job ever; I wanted to quit after the first day.  While every moment of my employment there was dreadful, the worst part was the cash register.  I began the job assuming the cash register buttons would have pictures of food items on them, because that’s what all the comedians said.  But no.  Not only were there not pictures of food items, there also weren’t words.  Not even words!  Each cash register button  had two distinct sets of abbreviations on it, and I was supposed to decipher how the abbreviations corresponded to the food items being ordered.  How was I supposed to operate under conditions like that?  It was abysmal.

So of course I’ve stuck to education jobs, because education is my passion.  The food industry certainly isn’t, although I do love to eat.  And my ballfield concession work certainly gave me an appreciation for nachos.  Mmm nachos.  With japs (pronounced with a hard “j,” as one ballfield patron called jalapeños).  Even at the time I found her mispronunciation of the word offensive on several levels, but I chalked it up to my continuing education.

I find opportunities to learn everywhere I go, and this meeting the other day was not an exception.  During the course of the meeting I learned, to my surprise if no one else’s, that I’m very passionate about words.

I know.  That seems so obvious.  I love words, of course I do, because I love reading and writing.  I always assumed I loved words because I love reading and writing, but I think I love reading and writing because I love words.

Words are amazing.

I love how they look on a page and how they roll off the tongue.  I love that there are so many of them and I will never run out of words to learn.  I love how they can join and bring meaning to life or hide meaning all together.  I love it that there is a word for everything, except the things that are ineffable, but then there is the word for that.  I love the component parts of words.

Yep, I love letters and syllables and stresses and accents and roots and prefixes and suffixes.  I even have a favorite letter and a letter I believe is entirely useless in the English language.

And I don’t just love English words.  I love words in other languages, and I love the rules that govern how languages create words.

You know what I don’t love?  When people mispronounce words.  If you’re close to me (as in familial or familiar, not as in nearby), I’ll probably correct you, although I do have my limits.  Just because I police the way I pronounce the following words doesn’t mean I’ll do the same to you.  But yes, I am particular about how I pronounce these words: February, your, you’re, spiritual, jewelry, athlete.

I also don’t love when people use more words than they have to, especially authors.  Please don’t ramble in your prose.  Use the words you need to convey your meaning, and then move on.

I’ve apparently loved words my entire life.  I’ve always had a good vocabulary and have been unafraid to use it.  And, according to my mom, I just love it when lots of words get crammed into small spaces, like song lyrics.  I do know a lot of song lyrics.  My mom says that the more words a song has, the more I enjoy it.  I can’t say that she’s wrong.  I also know some movies word-for-word.  If you don’t enjoy listening to someone recite an entire movie as you watch it, you probably should never watch Dirty Dancing or Princess Bride with me.

And what do I remember most about my forays into the food industry?  Words and how people used them (or the complete lack of words).

I even chronicle my memories of my children through their words.  I’m not much of a photographer, but I will certainly write down their conversations verbatim.

I know I’m not singular in my passion for words.  I just didn’t know I was passionate about words at all.  I’m glad I figured it out.  My life makes so much more sense now.

"Words Have Power" on a chalkboard with lightning by geralt on Pixabay at https://pixabay.com/en/board-blackboard-words-force-1106649/
“Words Have Power” on a chalkboard with lightning by geralt on Pixabay at https://pixabay.com/en/board-blackboard-words-force-1106649/

 

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