Friday, May 7, 2010

Tales of a census worker

It has been a very busy week, and to be honest, I love it. I wrote last week that I was having a hard time fighting my depression, but the business of this week has most definitely stopped that where it started. This week was reminiscent of my weeks at school, where I left the house around 8 a.m. and didn't get back until 8 p.m. This made for several long and slightly exhausting days, but they are happy days as well. Clearly, I need to be busy.

One of the things keeping me busiest this week is working for the census! I have finally started, and received my Assignment Area (AA). This week I've been knocking on doors, making phone calls, leaving notices, and, apparently, generally irritating people.
Without going into detail, of course, I wanted to share a few interesting stories from this week.

First, we had the landlord who insisted that the apartment with open curtains that was clearly vacant, was occupied. Alright, buddy. I called him twice to talk and the second time he got quite snippy. I'm pretty sure these people don't understand that we will continue to bother them until we get the information we want!

Then there was the woman who stated that, though she is white, she doesn't like to call herself white. And that the census doesn't have "the right races" on it. Ooookay!
This same woman almost refused to give me her daughter's information, even though I told her at least 50 three times that all information is confidential.

Another woman told me her age and birth month and day, but didn't want to tell me the year, because "there's so much identity theft out there!" I probably told her about 50 three times as well that all information was confidential, and that I took an oath to keep the information confidential. It's amazing how many people just don't believe me, or trust the government (not surprising though!)

Of course for all the irritating people, there are several cooperative ones, which makes it all worthwhile. Plus, I'm a huge fan of crossing things off lists, and this is exactly that! When I hit a house and conduct an interview, I'm done with that house which makes me feel very accomplished! I'm also learning and retaining a lot of interesting information about the census. For example, there is a $5,000 fine if you impede a census worker from filling out a questionnaire. If you flat-out refuse to complete the questionnaire, it is a $100 fine. And yes, they will find you.
Basically, it's best just to answer the questions. This only comes about once every 10 years, and the information is private for 75 years. After that, it's public record (but who really cares about that anyway!)

I'm enjoying my census work, now if only I could figure out how to work the 25 hours a week they would like us all to work!

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