Ten o’clock rolls around. We take the test. As we finish we hand our papers to one of the crew leader’s assistants who take the finished test papers back to be graded by the crew leaders. Once they are graded will call us back one at a time to tell us if we passed and what our assignment will be. My turn came and I was called back. My crew leader told me I scored 97 on the test. I passed! Then I got my assignment. She said I could work on it today or over the weekend, whatever works best for me. I decided to work on it this afternoon.
I shot on home for a quick lunch. I packed up all my material and head out to Hunter’s Mill, a housing development about five miles from where I live. Earlier in the day it had rained, hard at times. The sun was out when I left home for Hunter’s Mill. However, the wind was gusting up to 30 miles per hour. Big puffy clouds filled the sky. I had no trouble finding Hunter’s Mill. However, as I drove into the development I saw the first problem. Where am I going to park? I’m not comfortable pulling off to the side of the road. I couldn’t pull in a private driveway. Hmmmmmm. So, I drive around the development, looking for my starting point that my HHC indicated. I turned on the GPS. I was out of the area. Back around the development I drive a few more times. Still can’t hone in with the GPS. Then I notice another problem, the houses don’t run in consecutive order. Another problem, some of the houses don’t have numbers on them. But then I remind myself, that what they’re paying me for, to update the addresses to census forms can be sent to the correct addresses where people live.
Okay…………..I’m still driving around looking for a place to park. I finally find a cul de sac where I’m not too obtrusive. No one is around. A few houses up the street a dad and his teenage son were building a railing on their deck. They shot a few glances my way that weren’t exactly “Hey there! Welcome to the neighborhood” looks. This was a nice neighborhood and it was quite obvious that I was the Strange Person in the Neighborhood. I could feel several sets of eyes looking at me from behind silent picture windows of some of the other homes in the neighborhood. I have my Census bag on my shoulder and my Census badge blowing around my neck in the 30 mph gusts of wind. It was an unusually warm afternoon and I was starting to sweat.
I get out my HHC (hand held computer) and try to see where I am by looking at my GPS indicator. The bright sun was making it hard for me to read my HHC. The wind is causing my badge to slap me in the face. I’m trying to hang on to my Colorado Rockies cap. This isn’t going good. The first house I see isn’t on my HHC. This must be a new house. I see someone out front watering his lawn. I got to introduce myself by walking over to him then I remember, we’re not to walk on lawns. So I look for the cement walkway to approach the homeowner. He’s not looking happy. “Who is this nut?” he’s probably thinking. Yesterday we were mistaken for Jevohah’s Witnesses. Probably because of the bag we’re carrying over our shoulder. He’s also probably not happy seeing me take the long way around to circle into him. All he wants to do is water his lawn. My procedure is that I identify myself (“I’m Ronald Tipton with the U.S. Census Bureau and I am verifying your address for the 2010 Census”) and then I hand him a Privacy Notice. I had him the notice and I notice that his hand is holding a hose that has water running out of it. Ooops. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I asked him how long his house had been there. He said it was built in 2006 (same as my house, but that’s another whole story). Thus, it wouldn’t be on my HHC because it only contains information from the 2000 Census. This is a New House. I have to add it to my HHC.
Here we go. My next step is to do an ADD. I enter the information on my HHC. House number, street, town/city and zip code. Then I attempt to do a Map Spot which is to have the HHC GPS indicated where the house is on the map. My GPS had gone. Where, I do not know. It’s not there anymore. Oh great. Now I do a manual Map Spot. I can do that but I don’t know where to put it on the map. My map is either 5 feet out or 5,000 feet out. No in between. I think you can see how this is going. I discovered I was out of my range. In other words, I was in the wrong assignment area. Back to Go.
I find another house and I am in my assignment area. I bring up the GPS again and nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. While standing in front of the door of the Housing Unit, I see an elderly man looking at me on the other side of the glass storm door. He’s looking at me like I’m a Jevohah Witness. Those damn bags. I go to the door and to introduce myself. He opens the door and a dog scoots out. All five pounds of his furry self. My first dog! We were warned about “My dog doesn’t bite.” What did the elderly gentleman say? He didn’t say “My dog won first place at the Westminster Kennel Show.” He said……are you ready?........he said (I swear to God) “My dog doesn’t bite.” Oh Hallelujah! I think that was the grape that caused the camel’s back to sag. My first open door and I get a “My dog doesn’t bit” scooting out to greet me. Actually, this dog didn’t bite. She was just a little big of fur (some Yorkie mix) who actually seemed happy to see the big old strange man at her door with the Jehovah Witness should bag at her front door. I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was finished. That was it. This isn’t the job for me. I admit defeat. I go down in a blazing fireball of flames.
What in the world was I doing out here on this unusually warm, windy spring day when I could be home doing one of the following:
1. Taking a nap
2. Working in my garden
3. Writing my daily blog
4. Updating my genealogy records
5. Aggravating Bill
I hate to admit defeat but I just didn’t see this job fitting in with my lifestyle (such as it is.) I love my hotel job. I know others who would hate such a job. Too boring they say. Not to me, I never know what’s coming through that door at the hotel. I’m always up for the challenge. I like the challenge of making people happy. I didn’t see that in this job of canvassing neighborhoods, verifying addresses. I’m traipsing around in front of people’s houses, bothering them. That’s not me. I want to make people smile, not frown and fear that I’m going to hand them a Watchtower religious pamphletgiving them the opportunity to be one of the 144,000 Chosen. Then there are the other problems of where to park my car, and where was my GPS signal? That was so frustrating. I didn’t know where I was. I couldn’t Map Spot the house to verify the address on my HHC. At the hotel I have no problem “Map Spotting” my guests right into there room and I leave them smiling. And I didn't even get into the problem of going to the bathroom. How wold that be handled? I can hold it but not for hours on end. Wearing a giant astronaut diaper was out of the question. Maybe a mayonaisse jar. Nah, wouldn't work either. I was advised to try local libararies and fast food joints. Maybe McDonalds is good for something after all, a pee break.
No, address canvassing for the Census Bureau isn’t Ron. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Maybe defeat is too strong a word. A more accurate description would be that the job wasn’t a “good fit.” I remember years ago after I got out of the Army, I applied to Lukens Steel for a job. Back in the small town where I came from, most guys who didn’t go to college worked for the local steel company. I was no exception. Except that I wanted a job in the office but this was back in the early Sixties when sexism was still rampant and Political Correctness hadn’t been discovered yet. Office jobs that I wanted were listed under the “Female” section of the help wanted ads in the local newspaper. So, I dutifully applied for a job at Lukens. I passed the test and physical (had to parade around nude – all of us at once – all ages – something wrong with that.) I was hired as a crane operator. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the steel industry that is a job in which you’re in a small enclosed cage on tracks high above the factory work floor. The crane operator operates a giant magnet to pick up metal sometimes weighing thousands of pounds and move it around to different places on the work floor below.
Right away I saw a couple of problems with this job. First, was the cage air conditioned (it was not.) Second, there are men milling about the floor down below me, what happens if I make a mistake and drop a couple of tons of steel on someone’s head? Then there were the other problems like when and where to I potty? And I didn’t even get into how dirty my hands were going to get operating those greasy levers. I could see a lot of broken fingernails in my future. So, even after I was hired as a crane operator, I quite before I started. At lest today, I gave this job a couple of hours. But I could tell, this wasn’t the job for me, wandering around in front of strange people’s houses looking for my GPS. “Hey you! Whaddya doing out there?” Me……”I’m looking for my GPS signal.” Uh huh. Time to end this puppy’s misery.
I get home and I call my crew leader immediately. I inform her of my decision. She expresses regrets (a very nice lady by the way) but says she understands. I feel bad because they went to all the trouble to train me and I’m bailing. But, it was either now or later. I could see it coming. This job needs to go to someone younger and more energetic and less sensitive than writer of this blog. The unemployment figures go up everyday. I have a comfortable retirement and a lovely part-time job that I enjoy immensely. It was time to turn in my HHC. My crew leader told me to call her assistant and he would arrange to pick up my material. I called him and told him I would deliver it to him. Bill drove me to the assistant’s house and I delivered all my Census training paraphernalia and my HHC to the assistant. I officially resigned my job as a Census Worker. The resignation was probably necessary because I did take an oath of office when I was hired. I'm still feeling guilty that government funds were spent to train me and I didn’t follow through with the job.
It was better to quit now than later, when I would be totally frazzled and shell shocked. As the old saying goes, “You have to know when to play them and you have to know when to fold.” (Kenny Rogers?) I folded today. But, life goes on. I have a new appreciation for my hotel job. Bill is ecstatic that I will be home more. After 45 years, he knows me better than I know myself. He told me that he knew I wouldn’t like the job. Oh he does know me.
I go to work tomorrow at 7 am. Tomorrow night I think I’ll take in a movie from one of my Net Flix rentals (“Dan in Real Life”.) Sunday looks like dinner with friends at Stoney Lonen. Monday I work again at the hotel. Tuesday I take my car down to The Garage to get the rear window shield wiper working. Ah yes, back to the regular routine.