Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Census Man Cometh

Two months ago, I mentioned on this blog that my family's census form had arrived in the mail. Even though there were dozens of questions on the form - most of them pertaining to race and ethnicity - I simply filled out the constitutional portion of the form, which was question #1: the question that asked how many people live in our home.

When I got home from work today, there was a "We missed you" card from the U.S. Census Bureau that was stuck through our front doorknob. A Census taker named Scott had left the card that included his phone number and the information that he could be reached between 9am and 9pm. I made a mental note to give him a call after we got home from my son's tee-ball game.

We got home from the game at around 6:45pm, and had just started the bath, when there was a knock on the door. I guess Scott couldn't wait for my call.

He went through the pleasantries and introductions and then informed me that the Census Bureau had not received the form they had mailed me, and he was doing a follow-up. This caught me by surprise and I told him that I did indeed mail it to them. Scott gave me an "oh well" kind of shrug, got his pen and clipboard ready, and then told me that he had some questions to ask and it would only take a few minutes.

My answer was, "There are four people who live here."

Scott looked pleased and said, "Ah, that is actually the first question. Thank you."

He did a quick notation on his clipboard, and then told me that he needed to ask me the rest of the survey questions.

I said, "No, that won't be necessary. All you need to know is that there are four people living in this house." Then I pulled out the magic words. "The Constitution calls for an enumeration, and I have just fulfilled that requirement. The other questions won't be necessary."

Scott gave me the kind of knowing look that begins with the chin raised upward and a soft "ah" sound emanating from a slightly agape mouth, and then transitions to a deep nod with eyes closed and lips pursed.

Scott then thanked me for my time and walked away.

I didn't know quite what to expect with this encounter that I knew was coming sooner or later. For all I knew, Scott was going to start throwing federal law codes and court decisions at me. Who knows, maybe in a couple more days, Scott's supervisor will come knocking on our door for another go-around?

If that happens, I'll invite him in for some fava beans and nice Chianti.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

1 comment:

Don, American Idle said...

We have heard NOTHING from the Census. I suspect the form did not arrive because our only mailing address is a post office box. Our physical persons are in a rural homestead two miles from I-5, which must be waaaaaay out in the country. I would call someone, if I had a number, and say, "Where are you?" If and when they ask, I will respond exactly as you did.