Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Didn't Learn THAT in College

Washing windows with my step-dad today, I was reminded that I lack common sense. I have always been more book-smart than street-smart when it comes to pretty much anything. I didn't exactly expect to be washing windows for my mom to make up for borrowing $100 last month.

My step-dad asked me: "What did they teach you in college?"
My reply: "Literary analysis."
Him: "That doesn't help you clean windows, does it?"

Window Washing 101?

It also doesn't teach you street-smarts or common sense.

A person who is street-smart is attuned to and adept at surviving in an urban, poor, and often criminal environment. I have always lived a sheltered life, and when I ventured into the great unknown, I cried for my mommy. It has taken practice but I have learned to keep my ignorant mouth shut... most of the time.

The word "street-smart" is a back-formation of the word "street smarts," which originated in 1972.  Yes, I had to look up the definition of back-formation: a shortened word created from a longer word. For example, "bus" is a back-formation of "omnibus." Like a nickname for a kid with a massive moniker.

Remember Dodger from Oliver & Co.?

Common sense has a more detailed history. In the 14th Century, the word referred to the philosophy of mentally combining information gathered by the five senses, a.k.a. "ordinary understanding." It came to mean the sensible and logical understanding that enables a person to make good decisions and sound judgements.

My biggest problem washing the windows was figuring out how to reach them. Some were very tall and most were behind bushes. A few were on the other side of a koi pond. It involved a lot of manoeuvring, standing on steps, and extending the length of the squeegee.
None of which I learned how to do in college.

Why didn't someone warn me?

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