This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Census adventure

2010 is a census year, and I hope you have already returned your census form. If you do not return it, in the next few months a census enumerator will visit you. In the 1990 census I worked as an enumerator. I had a sabbatical leave that year, and as an economist I have often used numbers that the government collects, and I wondered what the process of collecting those numbers was like. Since I had free time, I decided to find out.

In the last month as I have been trying to sort through old paper and discard things I no longer need, I found the notes I kept from that experience. I do not remember why I kept notes, but it may have been that I regretted not keeping them for some earlier adventures I had. Always looking for something to put on this blog, I decided I would edit my notes and give you a peek at that old Rensselaer adventure.


First Day
It was wait, wait, wait. At 8:30 only three people were there, but more trickled in until 9:00. We filled in forms and took our oath of office. Then we found out how to fill out the pay forms. There was discussion of the vagaries of getting paid.

Second Day??
I was not impressed with the organization of the training. Not all the workbooks were there and there was no overhead projector. One of the trainers had never worked in the field--it was the blind leading the blind. The procedures are a giant flow chart, a giant decision tree. There is a range of abilities among the applicants--some are obviously sharper than others. But does it matter? Perhaps a nice smile is the best qualification.

Third Day
By the third day of training the lack of organization is no longer amusing but irritating. Nothing starts on time, discussion drags. The crew leaders do not move through the material well. Training begins at 9:00 and we skip lunch so we get out by 1:00.

There is much, much more. I originally planned to break up this adventure and use if over several days. However, I am not sure who, if anyone, would be interested. So if you want to read the whole thing, go here.

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