census, the house police

Yes, a neighbor said that to me. What are you, the house police?

Yesterday was the last day of my census work (only areas of Spanish speakers are left to do in my neighborhood, and I, alas, not because I haven’t tried, am mono-lingual). I am sad (it’s no longer a source of income) and glad (I don’t have to play big brother anymore.) Sure, we need the numbers for our representation in congress, as well as the money for our roads and hospitals. But how do you answer someone who asks why the government needs birthdays and race demographics? Why do THEY want my NAME and PHONE NUMBER? They want to know — does sound sort of creepy.

To find out how many people need age-related benefits. To figure out the number of school children, people that need social security, what have you. Yes, but how does that information help someone who is 35 and why should they care? I have more questions than I have answers.

After the usual pat questions and responses, one anonymous young man said, hey, that’s really not that important. I said, ok, then, so you don’t agree. Have mercy on me, then. They will fire me if i don’t collect the information.

He looked at me, point blank, don’t give me those big sad eyes, he said.

I looked at his nose ring and his stretched ear lobes with the big holes, and realized I wasn’t going anywhere with him, but to my next stop.

I backed off. ok, I said. thanks, anyway. He backed off, too. We had disconnected, from one person to another, neighbors, to people from other planets.

And to think we are all in this together, traveling in the same boat. Going upriver, without a paddle. Silent, with no real way to talk about it.

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