Monday, March 15, 2010

Apostasy and the search for truth from the Census main office

Anyway, I have had some good times the last few weeks! In this series of humorous anecdotes, I milk my census position for every possible funny moment. Let's get down to brass tacks. I got a text from a fellow census worker today and at the bottom it said, almost like a formal closing, "apostasy." In the interest of you not going to an online dictionary to remind you what this means, it is defined as "total desertion of one's principles, morals, or religious beliefs." I can't really think of a better non sequitur to a Census bureau text message.

So in my response (which I'm sure was equally confusing) I asked faux-naively: "Is that like ecstasy? Isn't there a book or something called 'apostasy and ecstasy'?" I haven't heard back from this co-worker yet, so I'm interested in getting his (or her, I'm not actually sure which co-worker it is) version of this story.

In further Census news, I knocked on the door of a house that I thought was unoccupied. As I was preparing to leave a baggie containing the questionnaire on the doorknob, the subject answered the door. She was about sixty, and probably still is consdering it just happened three hours ago. But I hope I'm this cool when I'm sixty, and I hope this wasn't just a demented lady rhyming to me. But seriously, she spits hot fire.

RetiredJK: "Hello my name is JK and I work for the US Census."

Subject: "The consensus is... (pause)... you're with the Census!"

RJK: "Oh yeah when did you start freestyling?"

Also, I had a pretty amazing chat with a woman at our district office. I needed to get a TPS report from her including the emails of all the people in my group of ten enumerators, for I planned (in a stunning show of efficiency, decentralization, and direction of workflow) to start an "e-mail list" and a "Google document" which could allow us all to update the all-important spreadsheet. We'll start with my phone call being transferred to the target phone-answerer:

(Me singing along with elevator music)

Census: "Hello this is "Rhonda" how may I assist you today?" (names changed for protection)

RetiredJK: "Hello. My name is JK and I work for the Census-- I'm an assistant crew leader in fact. I need to get a list of the email addresses for the group I trained last week."

Census: "Oh my, I don't know if we have that information. I mean I'm not sure if that's even possible. I... I just don't know."

RJK: "Could you find out please."

Census: "I just don't think we have that information."

RJK: "You have my email address and everyone who took my training class last week."

Census: "Well.... give me their names and I'll ask my supervisor."

(On hold, I throw down half a K.C. and JoJo song)

Census: "You can't have that information because it's confidential. You'll have to get it from your workers each individually."

RJK: "You realize you sent me a list of all their names, telephone numbers and addresses previously."

Census: "I don't know. I'm just not in a position to give out any of that information."

We now go by code names in our Census group so that we don't give out any identifying information. This is totally real, one person goes by IB BrakenBonez, I am J-Tiger, someone else is Carlos, and we are really the only three people keeping it up, but it's pretty cool. I'm kind of sticking it to the man but in a funny way.

In yet another entertaining snippet, one of many in a seemingly neverending series, I called the main office to get a boss lady's email address to email her the master spreadsheet. I talked to the boss lady and it became increasingly obvious that she had an aversion to electronic music:

RetiredJK: "So I have this spreadsheet in Excel format and I'd like to send it over there."

Census: "So... you're gonna fax that to me?"

RJK: "Well, you see, excel files are most often e-mailed."

"I don't have an e-mail address."

(Pause for me to laugh)

"You poor thing. I am speaking to someone at the Census bureau right?"


"You know you can get email on the Web for FREE, right?"

"Is that so? Well, I do have an email address, but I'm not important enough to use it."

I told her not to be so hard on herself, but I eventually realized that she just meant she didn't have a secure census email address, which again led to the following exchange:

Me: "So... it is OK to fax something to an office of forty people but I can't send it to you privately via email?

Census: "I'm just not qualified for that."

It's funny, because the more they waste my time, the more time I waste discovering out just how much time they waste.

No comments:

Post a Comment