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Non Census

So, a blank census form has been sitting on my desk at work. I had the semi-intention to fill it out so brought it in. At first, I wasn’t going to send the goddamn thing back, but then I thought about it. It makes sense that the government take a count of its citizens. Not for the sake of doling out cash to the races and other pressure groups with the loudest and most annoying assholes speaking on their behalf, but for the basic reason of knowing how many individuals need their rights protected and where they reside. This realization didn’t get me to fill out the census form any faster. Which is why I was a little startled when our doorman called up to say a census worker was asking for us.

My wife bravely handed the intercom phone to me, and I told the doorman I’d be right down. Could be fun, I thought, but on the other hand, was there a fine for my lack of response to the US government about to be handed over?

I went downstairs to the lobby, and saw the scarily bureaucratic face of the Census Taker. She was sitting right in front of the guard desk, which concerned me a bit because I didn’t want my friendly doorman cramping my style when it came to fucking with the government worker. I had every intention of shooting fish in a barrel, and I didn’t exactly want a hunter, fisherman, or animal rights activist observing my every shot.

I made it all the way through the question about my age before I had to ask the lady to adjust my age. (That would be the unintentionally funny moment. For now, I’m “in my 30s”, so I don’t pay attention to the details.) Then she got to the question on “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish Origin”. That’s getting a little personal, isn’t it? I told her I’d rather pass on that one. She was ok with that. Then she asked about race.

She rattled off the first couple choices: “White, black…”

“We’re both black,” I said.

The above is funnier if you assume I’m not black. You’d be right. For the record, neither is my wife. (I personally think it’s funnier knowing that she’s a completely different non-black race than myself.)

The woman – did I mention that she had that “social worker” look to her? That creepy, shifty-eyed look of people who have moved to the “fixing-others” stage before they’ve passed the “fix-your-own-fucking problems” stage? She had it. (And, granted, she was just as likely to have the “I’m just trying to earn a buck” look. But she didn’t.)

So, I’m white and I told the lady, “We’re both black.”

She didn’t bat an eye.

I mean, this lady didn’t even have the courtesy of admitting any kind of offense being taken. I just lied to her face, for Christ’s sake. Would she not at least give me an evil eye? Something? Nope.

As she moved on to the next question, and as I moved on from the state of disbelief to the state of “Ha!!!!!”, a small smile was quickly repressed from my face.

About thirty or forty minutes later, after I had returned upstairs, my wife and I then came back down to exit through the lobby. The Brain was still there. I was convinced that the sight of myself with another, even more obviously non-black person would have rattled her. It didn’t.

As of May 21, 2010, there are two more black Americans residing in the United States than there were on May 20. And as of 11:59 PM, they’re blasting the urban sounds of Elton John from their stereo. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, circa 1973.

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1 Michael Spitler { 05.23.10 at 11:00 pm }

Ha! I was thinking of doing the same thing, but the census didn’t come to me this. I guess I will just have to wait until next time to tell the government that I am a Native American Jewish Transsexual with AIDS.

2 Geoff { 05.24.10 at 2:30 pm }

I wonder if Census takers are specifically trained to avoid questioning or confronting anyone on their answers. Hell, I suspect they probably are. Of course this has the side effect of making the answers (and thus the entire point of the Census itself) basically worthless, but hey, we can’t risk even the most remote possibility of someone getting even slightly offended, right?

I also wonder just how far one could go before the Census worker just gives up/breaks their pencil/starts crying/whatever.

“That’s right, Ms. Census Taker, my actual name is K’ryylax. For my Race you can put down ‘Sentient Lava Being,’ and my legal residence is actually Earth’s Molten Core. Number of children? Err… somewhere around six thousand, if you count my Legion of Magma Warriors.”

Although, I dunno, it might be pretty depressing, watching the Census taker just note all that info down without batting an eye.

3 Jason Roth { 05.24.10 at 2:43 pm }

Geoff, you are probably exactly right - that the trainers must emphasize that their job is to collect data, not analyze it. There are college infested parasites (to use an Ayn Rand phrase) paid to do that.

4 Moshi { 06.06.10 at 6:39 pm }

I agree with Geoff, its probably hard coded in their mind to just accept any data they are given and not show any signs of being a human.

5 Jason Roth { 06.07.10 at 12:22 am }

Moshi, I detect some sarcasm. By the way, here’s an interview with Walter Williams about the legality of today’s census. Williams is a great man, and he’s especially interesting in this interview.

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