Reading Cat's Cradle at the End of the World
It was the summer of 2007 and I was working for an auto salvage yard in Akron, OH. My job was to be the first person who took inventory of a wrecked or totaled vehicle as it came in. I was required to get into the vehicle to collect information and certain parts or belongings. From time to time, I'd come across a vehicle soaked in human blood. Each vehicle had a story: A suicide car, a broken baby seat, palm crosses on the mirror, a tooth stuck in the dashboard, bullet holes and brain matter. It was depressing to say the least, an occupational pool-pah, if you will.
When Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle was assigned in one of my summer courses, I took it with me to read on my lunch break. I worked ten and twelve hour shifts practically unsupervised, so when I became so engrossed by the book, I took it with me into the yard. I found a wrecked Oldsmobile eighty-eight, maroon inside and out, with broken windows, cleared a spot in the driver's seat, leaned it back and read the book on company time. The novel's sarcastic tone provided nervous laughter where humor didn't seem to exist. I found myself whispering, "busy, busy, busy" and laughing at tragic car wrecks. No, it's not that I was laughing at them, I was laughing at the horrifying seriousness of them. Cat's Cradle was a lesson that it is okay, sometimes necessary even, to do that.
The reading experience was a spiritual one, and I'll never forget reading it, "lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who."