Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"A census taker once tried to test me..."

Although that classic line by Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" is bone-chilling, it isn't enough to deter me from working as a census enumerator this spring. The U.S. Census Bureau contacted me this week to hire me for the part-time job that offers a lifeline in this economic abyss. At $15.25 per hour for up to 30 hours each week, it's a nice gig if you can get it. This part-time job also should replace unemployment compensation during the eight weeks the feds need me to knock on doors counting heads.

I'm excited to begin my training in a couple weeks, but am somewhat concerned that people will shy away from this constitutionally mandated count because the federal government is held in such low esteem. Now, I'm not so much worried about who might be on the other side of the door (I've been to plenty of funky neighborhoods as a newspaper reporter) but I do wonder if people will actually answer my questions when I come knocking. There is no need to worry about privacy, though, because it will be 72 years before your basic answers are released. And those answers become fascinating reference points for future generations interested in genealogy.

Not to sound like a PR shill, but the census is important because it decides how federal money is directed and helps to shape our state legislative and congressional districts. And after watching the cluster that has become our state/federal governments, do we really want our local communities on the short end of this legislative mess?

So do us all a favor and mail in your census forms when you get them this month. Otherwise, I might be searching for you in the coming weeks, although I promise not to be too testy.


  1. Just remember, this is SW PA... be careful.

    You don't have to be scared, but be careful.

  2. I've heard they try to keep you in your own area. So I wonder how far I'll how to venture into the backwoods.

  3. I would gladly participate if the bureau ever decided to contact me. My house has been overlooked in the past two counts.

  4. Scott, here are the instructions if you don't get a census form in the mail by March 17, or a census taker doesn't come to your house.

    According to the Census Bureau's website... Be Counted forms are census forms that are available at various community
    locations for use by people who either did not receive a census form in the
    mail or who believe they were not otherwise included on any other census
    form. Be Counted forms will be available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean,
    Vietnamese and Russian. The form should be picked up and mailed back in the
    attached postage-paid envelope. The deadline for mailing a Be Counted form is
    May 1, 2010