Sunday, May 2, 2010

U.S. Census

The Census Taker, Harper's Weekly, 1810

Written 2 May, 2010

U.S. Census

On Tuesday I reported to work as an enumerator for the U.S. Census Bureau.

I spent four days in training, swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and maintain confidentiality of the data I collected for life, under penalty of a huge fine and up to five years in prison, got my assignment book, and headed for the streets.

As a temporary job, it's great. The pay rate is handsome, I can choose my own hours, and I work close enough to home to take bathroom breaks and have meals at my own residence.

As a census taker, my responsibility is to visit addresses which didn't return their census forms and determine who was living there on Census Day (April 1). I determine the names of the residents and their relationship to one another (by their own definition), and their sex and ethnic origin (again by their own definition). People can choose as many races as they wish, and their own gender (a relief for transgendered people, who can self-define rather than having a gender assigned to them based on others' impression). Gay men and lesbians can define their relationships any way they wish, as marriage or unmarried partnership.

It's hard to see what it is about the census that has alarmed the right-wing whack jobs. Oh, wait! Right-wing whack jobs create crises and conspiracies out of whole cloth. I forgot that for a minute.

I'm planning to use my ill-gotten gains to build a new desktop, have rollbars installed in my Miata (at Sweetie's request), and, what was that, oh, yeah, pay some bills.

Being a census taker must have gotten me on a mailing list of some kind, because today I was approached by SpecialAffairs Linden. He asked me if I would like to pick up a few virtual bucks as a Second Life census taker.

Of course I jumped at the opportunity.

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