Drug Rehab Center 11:30am Monday, March 22nd, 2004
Cats for Company
I walk down the main street strip of Padua WV, in search of another possible interview. I am drawn to a Drug Rehab Center, which seems to be sitting next to nothing as I walk into the building. Upon entering the building I am distracted by the smell of cats. There, below me, at my white tennis shoes lay four cats, sprawling out on the floor. I look ahead and see a great deal more of these feline creatures. A middle aged woman approaches me and I assume her to be the owner of these beasts trotting along the floor. “Cats are great sources of health for the human body,” she says as she introduces herself to me.
I receive permission to do an interview with her and we walk back to a more quiet area to conduct this research study inquiry. My eyes start to water and my nose is running due to the pungent smell of cat matter floating in the air. I decide that cats may not be so healthful for me.
Catwoman’s desk is surrounded by litter boxes and I kick one to the side to get a better position for my interview. I decided there are too many cats in my space for 11:30 AM, but I proceed as Catwoman begins by saying “I hate math.” She crunches on Andy’s potato fries, each bite making a disturbing crunching sound in the silence while she gathers her thoughts for this exchange.
She begins the interview, “When I was a waitress, I had to add a lot of numbers. It is a pain in the butt, but math leads you to an important part in your life. Math is very important because you have to know how to count.” She reaches down and begins petting one of her feline friends with great ceremony. I wonder if this lady hates math due to her overall educational experience. “My teacher was a Pastor; he was careless, only doing the problems once on the board then leaving it up to us to solve them. Looking back now, if math wasn’t required, I would have never taken it. I hate putting the letters in a math problem. My entire job requires now is to drive a van of people and count to make sure they are there. I guess, even though I hate to admit it, I use math everyday.”
Catwoman continues to hate math as she continues venting her feelings about the mean Pastor teacher. “Algebra is the farthest that things should go for kids in school. I don’t think you need any more. I am scared to death of letters; I haven’t been the same since I was taught to put letters in a math problem.” Her honesty impresses me. Just when I think we can get to the real heart of her anger, from my right a cat jumps onto Catwoman’s desk and changes the topic we are discussing.
“Oh, I need to mention that I also keep track of miles on my van,” she says as she is starting to realize that she uses math more then she realized in a everyday life. “These older people I drive around need math, too. Knowing math may help them out somehow.” I ask her about the possibility of starting a math program for retired citizens in the community, but she is more focused and interested in my thoughts on math.
After some coaxing by me and some cat rubbing by her, I ask her again about a senior math program. “Yes that is something that can really work. I believe these retired people would enjoy a math program.” She pauses after her statement and is notified of a phone call she needs to take. She looks over at me with looks of regret and I assume we are ending the interview. I rise to leave, wishing that I had more time for this chat.
Catwoman may not be interested in math for her life, but realizing how counting her passengers and keeping track of miles is a part of math working in her life has made her more aware of herself and her knowledge of math. Folknography offers Catwoman an opportunity to voice her thoughts and feelings on math. She disappears into another room as I follow the trail of cats to the front door, where I step into the outside world and smell, once again, the sweet fragrance of mountain air. I am out of cat kingdom and heading toward the C & S diner for lunch. I decide to use a little math and county my blessings. I have a good education, I have a wonderful family, and I don’t count on cats for company. I smile and walk on.