As I’ve recently noted, I’m one of tens of thousands of temporary Census enumerators working during the past few months. I’ve learned quite a lot, actually. My wife said I just took the job so I’d have something to blog about. While that’s not technically true, the experience has gotten the brain working.
I’ve been working in Albany County so far. One of the things I have discovered is that I’ve gotten to really see houses I’d never actually looked at before. Some are only a mile or two from my home. Some blocks have a thematic design, while others have a crazy-quilt feel. And oddly, I love them all.
What I don’t love, because I’m getting old, are narrow and/or steep stairs. Or handrails that move. On the first day, I walked the route because most of the houses individually were within walking distance. But the collective toll is that my feet ached for hours.
The solution was to take the bicycle. It’s been great, especially when I have to go three blocks to that next cluster of houses. I’ve discovered putting my Census valise and bike lock in my backpack is the way to go. And while I might get a little wet when it rains, my Census material does not. And I can put the bike on the bus to get to those locations that are a bit farther away.
Packing for the day
There are several items I must carry, in addition to various forms. One is a mask. Because I’m paranoid about losing it, I often carry three or four. I need my badge.
The device we use to get our list of houses to visit is an iPhone. I’ve never owned one. But my current Android rather sucks. When I needed to reboot my iPhone, I was told to turn the volume up and down thrice and turn it off, then on; it worked! The stylus is also preferable to using my fingers. But then I read stories like this and say, maybe not.
They’ve stopped teaching civics
I’ve discovered that a number of people don’t know what the Census is. This is despite ad campaigns and local advocates. I just saw a CDTA bus flash, “Please fill out the Census.” It determines the number of members of the House of Representatives for each state, among many other things.
I have explained how we have counted nearly all the people in the country since 1790; it’s in the Constitution. And that the information is by law confidential, not to be shared with the police, IRS, FBI, CIA, ICE, even the USPS.
Can I get a proxy
One of the difficulties of doing the Census in September when Census Day is April 1 is that people move. After a number of failed attempts, we are required to try to find other people to provide information. Sometimes it’s the landlord or the real estate agent.
One of my friends worried that people might lie about their neighbors. It has been my experience that the neighbors are in the main reluctant to share, or simply do not know.
As for some of the folks who are still there, a reported four-in-ten who haven’t yet filled out the U.S. census say they wouldn’t answer the door for a census worker. And proxies are less reliable than getting data from the householder, of course.
It’s been an interesting sociological study. PLEASE encourage people to fill out the Census by paper or online or by phone or to open their doors to one of the many Census enumerators in their area.