Friday, April 8, 2016
Unstuck in time
I have a special fondness for time travel stories. They're such wonderful vehicles for talking about fate, free will, and the nature of stories themselves, after all, stories are made out of time itself, and yet they are completely free to travel freely around in it as well. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut has a fine understanding of this. So fine, I suppose, that it is actually where I learned this.
In Slaughterhouse Five, the main character, Billy Pilgrim, is unstuck in time, and moves through different episodes of his life in a non linear manner. I have been thinking about this a lot lately as this is what seems to be happening to me these days at the library. I have worked here for more than two decades. One moment I am downstairs watching the O.J. verdict in a break room that no longer exists and the next I am showing people how to use our programmable paper books which don't yet exist as I write this. For a few minutes I am buried in an endless crush of book returns that I could never hope to get caught up on, and then I am watching our big check in machine toil away for me, taking care of the job handily, as I sip a cappuccino.
Then I am at the front desk with some co-worker. There have been hundreds of them. I turn to this person and ask how long they've worked at the library.
"Almost six months now." They answer. "Why do you ask?"
"I just wanted to know where I am in time."
I remember when they'd worked here for eight years.