Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Count Me In

We had a great Easter. I now have no raw eggs in my house; everything is boiled and dyed. We’ll be eating egg salad sandwiches until we both drop dead of strokes from the cholesterol. It’s time to move on and talk about other things like the Census.

Everyone should have received their census form by now and mailed it back in. If you haven’t, you’d better get to it right away. When I filled out our form for the two people who live here I came across a little known benefit of being the person filling out the form: you get to call yourself “Person Number One.” For the past forty years I’ve secretly wanted to go on record as Person Number One. When we bought our first house the paperwork was filled out as “Beaven Els et ux Jane Els.” I never took Latin but figured out soon enough that “et ux” means “and wife.”

I didn’t mind being Mrs. Beaven Els nor any of the million of times a repairman wanted to talk to Mr. Beaven Els instead of me but the “et ux” part grated on me. And I didn’t realize just how much until I had the opportunity to become Person Number One.

I couldn’t believe it when my friend Linda filled out their form and made her husband Person Number One and herself Person Number Two. Come on gals, for all the work our mothers and grandmothers put into getting equal rights and a little respect, you deserve to call yourself Number One. You’re the one who filled out the form for goodness sakes.

It does great things for your ego, too. I find myself walking around with my feathers all fluffed out and thinking to myself, “I’m Person Number One. I’m Person Number One and you’re not. You are only Person Number Two.”

The form goes up to Person Number 12, I think. Can you imagine the self-image problems that person will have for the rest of their lives? Or the nicknames they have in their family?

The rest of the form was kind of boring. Even the part where I claimed that our race is white was boring; as boring as white bread. And if you want the truth, we are real live WASPs. It doesn’t get any more boring than that. Both Person Number One and Person Number Two had one parent who was full-blooded straight-off-the-boat German and another parent who had English/Scottish ancestry. We come from solid Lutheran/Presbyterian backgrounds. You can’t get any more Anglo-Saxon or Protestant than that. To my knowledge there’s not a drop of Italian, French or Catholic blood in either of us. On the Anglo side I can even claim ancestry back to the American Revolution if I were the sort to drop names -- which I’m not, mostly because no one has ever heard of the guy. Even that part is boring.

Now, here’s the reason I really want you all to get your forms turned in and it’s not just so you can claim yourself Person Number One. I am about to go to work for the Census. I’ll be one of those part-time folks who hunt down people who don’t turn their forms back in. I will track you down and get your number. Don’t make me come get you.

I’m not really sure what my job as an “enumerator” will be. My kids finally got me to admit I’m only doing this so I’ll have something interesting to write about in this blog. But it also seems such an American thing to be part of. For the last couple of hundred years or so, every ten years our government counts us. I think it will be cool to be part of this event.

The Census people tell me the hours are flexible which will be good because I stay pretty busy these days resting. If they don’t want me to get into long drawn out conversations with people that will be OK. The walking around won’t bother me; one of the perks of this work might be the exercise. I hope they’ll teach me how to deal with mean dogs if I’m walking around in people’s front yards. I hear from the UPS man that our sweetest dog (appropriately named Girlfriend) gets real ferocious around him and even tried to bite him once. This is a huge surprise but I don’t discount it. The guy has no reason to lie and it just reminds us that even sweet dogs can be moody if you rub them the wrong way by driving into their territory in a big brown truck. It’s a good thing my car doesn’t look like a UPS truck.

I will be going for training in a couple of weeks and I’ll know more about what I’ll be doing then. The training is at the Pleasant Grove Volunteer Fire Department not too far from my house. The Census guy on the phone kept trying to give me directions on how to find the training site, but he needn’t have worried. I know how to find it alright, and they know how to find me. In fact, the Volunteer Fire Department has the route to my house memorized. And I will be keeping a low profile when I go in for my Census training. Maybe I’ll wear a pair of sunglasses or dress down. Wait, I already dress down about as far down as you can get; there’s no room to go any lower.

For those keeping score on me, you will remember that I have a history with our volunteer fire department. I will always maintain those last two fires were not my fault. I swear to God they weren’t. OK, maybe the first two were. I’ll give you that. But the third and fourth weren’t. And anyway we make nice contributions to their fundraisers every chance we get. I used to keep a batch of brownies on hand in the freezer for when they come but they haven’t been by in a long time and I sort of ate the brownies.

I wonder if the training will include rules on accepting brownies from sweet little old ladies who just want to be friendly and make it up for not mailing back their Census forms. Those chicks will be the Person Number One, for sure, if I have to change their form myself.

1 comment:

Freddie said...

Jane, if most people did not send back their census form it would require more census workers. This would help lower the unemployment rate.