After having lived in New York City for only three or four years, I ran into Mr. Vonnegut on the street one day near Coliseum Books, a New York institution that predeceased him by only a few months.
I could have tried to stop him in his tracks and babbled on endlessly, as I'm sure many thousands of people have done, about how much his books meant to me. (Hell, after I graduated from the writing program at UNC and should have known better, for a few years I drove a convertible with a license plate that read "ICE-NINE.")
Instead, I smiled, nodded, and kept walking... a man who will always be a Southerner despite living in New York, communicating with a man who had always been a Midwesterner despite living in New York.
He nodded and smiled in return.
I'm glad I did it that way. A cynic and a misanthrope he may have been, but he was perfectly polite to a stranger on the street.
I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.Kurt is up in Heaven now.
Related: Biography and CV of Kilgore Trout @ VonnegutWeb