I grew up and went to college in Michigan, but have lived abroad and on the East Coast for the last 50 years. Until reading the Record-Eagle article, I never realized that I say "ope" all the time — and that other people do not say it. However, I would have spelled it "oop" and it seems l use it as a form of "oops." Nor has anybody ever come up to me and asked if I am from Michigan. Anyway, thanks to you, I am now aware that it is an automatic and deeply ingrained speech pattern, and I am proud to be in such good company.