Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Single Mom and the Census Guy

Am I my neighbor's keeper when it comes to the 2010 census form? [graphics for affects –– not me in the photo left]

As early as January I had been bombarded by census ads, the short-lived controversy, and our government touting that the 2010 census form was "the shortest form in U.S. history." Back in February, I had even written an article about the 2010 census and its $340 Million campaign, including our taxpayer-funded Census Road Tour and a 30-second, $2.5-million Super Bowl ad –– a reminder to "stand up and be counted."

Back in early March, I received an announcement that my 2010 census form was forthcoming and later that month it arrived. Like a good citizen, I filled out my census form and thought I did a good thing. April came and I got knock on my door. Wearing the signature census necklace-type badge and sporting a clipboard, it was a census worker, a.k.a., "the census guy." I was excited to tell the census worker that I had already filled out my 2010 census form and he informed me that he knew that –– he was inquiring about my neighbor, who hadn't filled out his census form.

Since I live in a townhome complex, my place is in close proximity to three of my neighbors, one of whom I know pretty well because our daughters attend the same middle school. I politely told the census guy that I rarely see that particular neighbor and don't even know his name. I even took the time out to show the census guy the front side to my neighbor's place and that maybe he would have better luck contacting him that way. The census guy thanked me and went on his way.

A couple of weeks later, the same census guy knocked on my door, looking for my neighbor again. We had the same type of interaction; the census guy left and I went about my day. A few days later, I ran into my neighbor as he was off to play golf, and told him that the census people were looking for him. He laughed and said, "I know."

At this time, I should add an important factor to this scenario: I am a single parent –– in the most legitimate form that title implies, raising a daughter by myself. I'm not seeking sympathy here, but it is relevant to what is about to come next. It is also a testament to the fact that I am very busy, however, I am the type of person to stop whenever I see a stray animal and make sure they get home or to an animal shelter. I'm even crazy enough to stop traffic and help a mother duck get her little ducklings safely across the street.

Just last week, I was having a bad day and was quite grumpy. I had just gotten home and was unloading groceries, getting ready to prepare dinner, feed the animals, walk the dog for the second time, do some laundry, keep my daughter on task with homework, and so on. I got a knock on the door and who do you think it was? Yes, another census worker; again equipped with a badge and clipboard. This time, I wasn't so pleasant –– no patriotic, "I did my duty" attitude –– and before the census guy could get a word out I said, "You guys have already been here twice, what the heck?" He responded with, "It wasn't me, this is my first time here." I then confirmed, "Well, I already told the other guy that I don't know where my neighbor is and I am sick of you guys knocking on my door, bothering me." Prefaced with a "ma'am," the census guy kept his calm demeanor and offered a "limp" apology, yet he still wanted to know about my neighbor. So, I pointed at his clipboard and pleaded, "Can you please get my name off of your list or something? Make a note on your file there." The census guy, a little ruffled at this point, told me that he didn't know what he could do, offering no solution. I'm sure I spewed out a few unpleasantries during our brief interaction, but I ended our encounter frustratingly with, "Well, then can you call someone at the head of the Census office? Can you call the president or something?" As I slammed the door, the census guy left.

After the fact, I felt bad of course, but dang, all that for my neighbor's census form. It's June; isn't the 2010 census stuff over yet? More probing thoughts have entered my mind since; was I too hard on the census guy and will another census worker be back knocking on my door looking for my neighbor's 2010 census form? Gee, I hope not, but then again, worse things could happen.

First published in
Blogcritics Magazine –– Politics
The Single Mom and the Census Guy
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Jun 02, 2010 at 10:05 pm

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