Five annoying things about the Census
I’m not a trouble-maker. I do what I’m told. But a few days ago I made fun of the U.S. Census people for spending a fortune to send letters telling us our Census forms would arrive soon. I figure I’m alert enough to spot the form when it lands.
I guess the Census is a good thing. They had one in the Bible, which is how Mary and Joseph ended up in Bethlehem. There’s a census every 10 years, so that’s why they went in the year 0000.
Anyhow, my Census form DID arrive, just as the letter warned, and it got me annoyed all over again. Here’s why:
1. THE ENVELOPE: It says in big black letters, “U.S. Census Form Enclosed. YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.”
Now, most people don’t respond well to threats when they’ve done nothing wrong. If my monthly Visa bill arrived with a message like that on the envelope, I’d change to a different credit card.
If that’s the heavy-handed way the Census people want to play, why don’t they just do a human sacrifice in every block, so other residents will quickly fall into line?
2. MY MAILBOX IS FULL: They sent three forms in three envelopes to my single-family residence, marked Apartment 1, 2 and 3. Neighbors say there may have been apartments here 20 years ago, but shouldn’t they have sorted that out by now? If I only fill out one of the forms, am I in trouble because the other two don’t get returned?
3. I CAN’T PREDICT THE FUTURE: The first question – I’m not making this up – is “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010?” WERE? That date is more than two weeks from now. I guess I could wait until April Fool’s Day to count them, but my warning letter said to return the form “promptly.”
4. HEY, IS THIS A TRICK QUESTION? Question 2 asks, “Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010, that you did not include in Question 1? That’s right, I’m such a total imbecile I didn’t understand the first question, but don’t worry, I’ll get it right this time.
5. WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM, ANYWAY? Here’s what really pushed me over the edge. After asking about my sex, race, age, etc., the form asks if I “sometimes live or stay somewhere else?” and if yes, one of the options to check is “In jail or prison.”
Well, I guess the secret is out, Census people. I’m a 72-year-old female Pacific Islander who isn’t living here two weeks from now because I spend lots of my time in prison. I hope you find this useful.
U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves gets a ride in a dogsled from the Noorvik airstrip into the remote Inupiat Eskimo village in Northwestern Alaska in this January 25, 2010 handout. REUTERS/Al Grillo/U.S. Census Bureau/