Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Census Time
Jennifer Flaten

Help! The Census Bureau is stalking me. They keep calling and calling, it is getting ridiculous. Amway salesmen are less persistent.

My troubles started when I received that big fat envelope from the Census Bureau. Oh, I knew it was coming. The government mailed out a pre-census warning letter.

Yep, the government took time to inform me of the census' impending arrival and the dire consequences I would suffer if I didn't respond.

In a rather chilly tone, the letter informed me that the government takes this census stuff very seriously and if I didn't comply, they would lay siege to my home until I did.

Well, based on the five thousand phone calls I have received they weren't kidding.

If I may digress for a moment, why on earth did the government waste money printing, stuffing and mailing me a notice that I would soon receive the census?

So, there it was lurking in my mailbox, looking so innocent until I opened it. Plop! Out fell this multi page packet.

Geez, I don't remember the last census asking so many questions. Still, I intended to fill it out. Really I did!

After all, I am a good citizen, but my god, it's enormous. I swear it must be at least a gazillion pages long and I well, I have a very short attention span. So, I set it aside.

Surely, the government has concerns that are more pressing then what style home I live in and whether I prefer crew socks to tube socks.

As I labored to fill out the endless questions (you know before I got bored), I began to wonder who would input this data into the giant government machine.

It's not that I mistrust the government. Nope, not at all, I fully trust the government to screw things up.

My biggest concern is who gets access to all this wonderfully personal data that I am providing? Knowing how cheap the government is probably someone who would gladly resell my information to happy spammers in exchange for a pack of smokes and a magazine.

There sat the census form. It's on my desk. It was on my desk, day after day, until one day it was gone.

In this house, things do have a way of "disappearing" just ask my kids. Not that I would ever make them disappear-no, I wouldn't do that.

I have resisted the urge to make the kids disappear, even when they are thundering through the house, screaming at the top of their lungs-an event that occurs with alarming frequency.

I merely refer to their little happy meal toys and other detritus that they bring home with them. These items mysteriously disappear all the time.

I have no idea what becomes of them. I am sure there is any number of scenarios. For instance, someone (not necessarily me) could get tired of stepping on them and constantly picking them up off the various surfaces and this person (again not me) could throw them in the trash.

Anyway, the census bureau is now after me calling at least once a day. The calls come with efficiency normally unheard of in government service.

Why, I could practically set my watch to the calls. I know precisely where I will be each day when the census calls. Conveniently, I'll be at the dinner table. I'll be just about to serve dinner to the hungry masses. These facts I know, without fail.

I don't know about other households. I know about our house, which is a very fine house. Dinnertime isn't a convenient time to answer 500 questions about my income and education.

I know I will have to answer the phone and get the darn thing out of the way. Otherwise, I am sure the census bureau will send someone to ring my doorbell at dinnertime.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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