Why was 6 afraid of 7?

I’ve written about the Census here and there, in part because the idea of really being able to count everyone in a country as big as this is next to impossible, and I’m extremely curious about the actual logistics involved in knocking on every single household’s door. I’ve worked with the Census before, though not in the enumerating capacity. It’s one thing to sit in a meeting in a run-down basement conference room on Census’ campus, the distant but distinct sound of water dripping through pipes like a kind of static behind the droning conversation about boring (but politically loaded) words like imputation, matching algorithms, and so on, the voices starting to sound like the tuba-speak of adults in the Peanuts comic. Wa waaah wa waht waaaaah waa.

The reality of walking around a neighborhood must be different, if only for the absence of GS-11 level and above staff. It’s just a temporary employee with a badge and a clipboard, and oh, reliable transportation. They are really insistent about the reliable transportation, having asked me, at this point, no fewer than five times if I have it. I would get a tattoo of my VIN on my forehead if I thought it would silence the question, but that’s no good over the phone.

So the Census has asked me to be an enumerator for them, meaning, walk around and knock on doors. I said okay, sure, I’ll take the $11.75 an hour, happy to have a job offer from anyone after 19 months of no real income. The $30 for doing the reading at the Roadshow last week was great because it was money from writing, but one dinner in downtown Walla Walla and I was back to having $5 in my wallet. (Still, it was great to take Susanne out to dinner again, I’ve missed that little grace.)

I reminded them about my amazing aluminum steed, so very reliable, and confirmed that I do not speak a lick of Spanish. If I were dropped out of a time machine—hot tub or otherwise—into 1984, the one thing I would change would be to sign up for Spanish, not French, classes. I mean, French is useful for reading Derrida and Lacan, and possibly for my citizenship test for Canada, should I some day apply, but wow, that’s about it in this lifetime.

Between my lack of Spanish and the Census’ map of the area’s initial response rates to the census form, I am betting I’ll be asked to go to Waitsburg, two towns east of Wallyworld. I don’t think I’ll be knocking on doors near the prison, but who knows?

Waitsburg is the cute town with the anti-abortion protesters, the very ones that I flipped off last winter for holding up pictures of completely inviable fetuses. They were not what I saw as an appropriate welcoming committee.

That said, I know I can be an impartial counter. I am cheery and I have nice penmanship. I may try to see if different facial hair styles has an effect on people’s response to me, because hey, you never know. Maybe they’ll cover this in training. I’ll find out tomorrow, when I show them my passport and press my fingers into their background checking machine. I suppose I’ll come up in the system, since I used to work for Social Security. It’ll be like deja vu, surely, only this time my background check and training will come on the other side of the country, in a Mormon-owned building. So sure, it’s just like the same thing as the west side of Baltimore. I could see the Wire from my window.

So this job, temporary though it may be, shall be interesting. More interesting than basement conference room, more interesting than watching yet another NCIS or SVU episode while I try to focus on writing a new story. Less interesting than writing a new story, but, and this is a big but, great fodder for an as-yet unthought idea for a new story. And I’m all about the new stories.

Waitsburg, here I come. I promise to keep my middle fingers to myself.

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3 Comments on “Why was 6 afraid of 7?”

  1. Kramer
    April 26, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    There is nothing more interesting than another episode of SVU. NOTHING. NOTHING I TELL YOU!!!

    • evmaroon
      April 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

      I checked this out yesterday from my sick bed. Wow, I thought I’d seen every episode, but clearly my viewership has dropped off in the last couple of years, because there were a slew I’d never laid eyes on before. Thank goodness, because I am sick to death of Criminal Minds, NCIS, and House reruns.

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