Monday, May 31, 2010

What I Learned While Working The Census

Some of you are probably aware I have been working on the census and not my writing. This isn't by choice. My husband and I found our business impacted by the economy and we needed the extra income.

I began the job with some preconceived notions, most of which were wrong. First, I just knew that the poorer sections of town, the ones plagued with the most crime, posed the most danger to me personally. I entered these areas with great trepidation, constantly on the lookout for dangerous situations, ready to flee at any given moment. The truth was, people in these areas were kind and courteous to me. They were welcoming and almost always offered me a seat and a cool drink.

My next assignment was in a more affluent area. I gave a big sigh of relief as I drove to the much posher neighborhood. This feeling of well-being lasted until the third house, where I was met by a man in his bathrobe who was carrying a gun as he walked on to his deck to ward me off. You would have been amazed at how quickly I scampered back to my car. In this same area I met a couple of homemakers who could easily qualify for the nomination of witch of the year. One took great pleasure in asking me to come back 4 times, only to be too busy each time to answer four minutes of questions. The other was rude and ill-tempered for no good reason that I could see. Finally, there was the house with three cars parked out front. I both rang the bell and knocked on the door because I couldn't be sure that my knock could be heard over the blaring noise of the television or stereo coming from within. After the second round of knocking on the door, a hand cautiously pulled aside the blind. Thinking I looked pretty harmless, I waited for the door to open. Much to my surprise a voice from within informed me that no one was home.

So, what have I learned from these experiences? Money doesn't buy good manners. An upscale neighborhood doesn't guaranty personal safety. And, there are crackpots who live in the good neighborhoods as well as on the other side of the tracks.


Carla Swafford said...

You're so right, Diane. I use to work for large privately owned company and the retired CEO use to come by to "visit" wearing a checkered red hirt, faded green pants, purple tie and galoshes.

Callie James said...

Wonderful blog, Diane.

M.V.Freeman said...

People are interesting and they'll always surprise you.

I have to admit, I don't like people I don't know coming to my door--and that's for many reasons.

But I do applaud your going out there and doing this. It can be tough.

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks for taking on a necessary but thankless task, Diane. I am not surprised at all to find that many of the people in affluent neighborhoods have such poor manners. They seem to think that money makes up for a lack of simple civility.

Many years ago I owned quite a menagerie of large reptiles - snakes, lizards, tortoises, and one 5 pound African horned toad. My biggest, a 13 foot python named Big Mama (weighed in at a little over 100 pounds) had her own room and while her room was being cleaned by a couple of my students I had Big Mama draped over my shoulders. Someone knocked on the door and I went to answer it without thinking about it. Imagine the surprise of the Jehovah's Witnesses when I opened the door wrapped in a 13 foot snake and asked if I could help them!

JoAnn said...

Good reminder to us all, Diane.

Cari Hislop said...

Good luck with the cold calling! At seventeen I had a paper route and I had to collect the money and then hand it in. The route was an average middle class area. Knocking on doors could be traumatic. I have this one memory where I was out on a dark rainy night on my own collecting after delivering and this man came to the door...I don't know if he was naked or nearly naked. I just remember seeing skin and standing there staring at his face and asking him if he could pay his $5.75 or whatever it was in those days. I don't think he paid.

Louisa...that's too funny...I would have been tempted to tell them my name was Eve! ;)