Saturday, March 6, 2010

First Work Week

As a Census employee, I took an oath to keep all Personally Identifiable Information confidential. Any such information is to be held in confidence for no less than 72 years. In 2012 the 1940 US Census will be available to the public. In that census my parents will be listed as a married couple, and I'm looking forward to studying listings for my parents, their siblings and my grandparents.

I cannot tell you the location of my assigned areas, but I can tell you I’m not driving as far to and from work as I did before retirement. I can also tell you that I’ve found friendly people. Everyone so far has been hospitable and understanding. However, I’ve talked with more animals than I have people.

Some dogs are NOT friendly. Most dogs greet you with enthusiasm. One beautiful retriever came to the gate with a stick in his mouth and I really wanted to stay and play with him. Naturally, I told him he was a good dog and his People would be home and play with him. His companion was just as friendly, but had a sore paw and was seeking some comfort. That census packet was left on the gate. I’ve also spoken to cats. Two half-grown black kittens ran to a front door when I knocked, hoping to slide in when it opened. Again, no one home, so the packet was left on the door knob.

It has been windy, so small plastic zip-ties were my choice when leaving the form on a door or fence. Even homes that are empty get one – most will be visited by the owner or a realtor who will complete and send back in to show an empty house. The ones not returned will receive a follow up visit.

As a government employee, I cannot mention religion. My own denomination is strongly supportive of the separation of church and state, yet we’re just as supportive of individual rights of free speech and freedom to practice one’s religion.

I can say I met several people who practiced their rights. I was encouraged by more than one to have a blessed day. One person mentioned the work he was doing for a youth group in his church. Another spoke of being on his church’s building committee. Several times I was asked about my own church. This is uplifting.

There were some that were not. So many people were without jobs. More than I expected. Our packet includes a brochure explaining that the census is looking for part-time employees. A large percentage of people I spoke with knew of someone – or they themselves – that would be contacting the office about working.

There were needs, too. In one particular instance I was reminded of pure religion.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27 KJV)

Look around you for those widows. Some have physical disabilities brought on by great age and are without supportive family. Some have outlived all relatives, except (perhaps) an inattentive, ungrateful child. Some may just need a door repaired, a lawn mown, hedges trimmed, a window fixed or steps replaced. After my accident last year, I notice steps every time!!

We’re working at a fast pace to meet timeframes. Americans may receive their forms in the mail, or they may be hand delivered. If hand delivered, be kind to your part-time census worker – it may be me.

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