Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Didn't Know I Liked People So Much

It was absolutely one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my life. I don't know if I would go so far as to say I would pay them, but its something I wish I could do every day.

Taking census.

During training I got the usual jitters about knocking on a stranger's door, unannounced. You've heard the horror stories about the Girl Scouts that were abducted, Jehovah's Witnesses who were never seen again, Amway salesmen who were forced to convert to selling Avon against their wills. Then here am I. A Census taker for the U.S. Government, interrupting their "stories" (soap operas), their lunch, their naps, and yet I couldn't wait to get out there!

Finding some of these places was like going on a grown-up scavenger hunt. I found roads and neighborhoods in my town that I didn't know existed. Some were beautiful, some were a little 'sketch' but all were special.

Meeting the people...not just asking trivial questions, but becoming a part of their lives, their stories, if only for a moment, was what motivated me to get up and get moving. I found out I can walk several blocks in 103 degree temperature without passing out, my van can maneuver dirt and gravel roads, and I can change a tire (maybe) but why, when there are helpful men around to do it for me (thank you, God!). 

My first flat occured a mile from my house. I had forgotten something and was headed back to get it when a loud noise and bumpy feeling interrupted my thoughts (husband changed that one). The next one happened two weeks later way out in the edge of the county. I was very near a gentleman's house whom I had just spoken with and he graciously helped me out. The very next day my son and I were driving my daughter's car home from Atlanta when it started shaking really bad. I was just about to get car sick when my son pulled over and discovered a large bubble or some sort of growth on the tire. My redneck son got that tire changed in no time....after we searched for a Walmart to buy tools.(Why would my daughter need tools in her car? sheesh!)

I learned some interesting things during this venture:
--Big dogs don't bother me a lot. Its the small to medium sized ones that I don't like. They're unpredictable and loud. Never got bit cause I wasn't going to get close enough to find out if they were "friendly".

--I like folks...a lot. Even those that aren't necessarily friendly at first. Just give them a chance.

--Loneliness is an epidemic.

--There are places I wouldn't want to live, but they are the very ones I want to go back and visit.

I could tell you about the gentleman that had scared the census trainees to death, so they sent me out to get the story. I saw an elderly man sitting on his side stoop. There were six older mobile homes behind him. He came to my car wearing a scowl and asked what I wanted, in an unfriendly tone. After a couple of minutes explaining who I was, listening to his rantings about the government wasting his money, he told me about his ailing wife, his kids who were grown and didn't want anything to do with him, the tenants that he obviously treated better than he had his children, particularly after stressing that he didn't "spend enough time with them."  I went back and reported a tired old man was trying to make up for his mistakes. I told him I would come back, not representing the Bureau. And I will.

I could tell you about more than one young woman, each with more than five children, that were obviously exhausted and "didn't have time to answer questions" until I told them I understood. I had four children and I've been exhausted. They each invited me in, seemed thrilled to have someone sympathize with them and were even thankful for the break in the routine to take time to answer a few questions.

Then there was the gentleman that just laughed at me. "What's so funny?"
"Cause you're here. I just saw you on TV."
"No sir. I wasn't on TV."
He laughed again.  "I keep seeing you census people on the commercials every few minutes, and here you are in person! What do you want to know?"  (wow. that was easy....)

I loved the ones that just hollered through the locked door, "WHO IS IT?"
"U.S Census Bureau. It'll just take a minute."
"WHO???"
"I'm with the Census Bureau. I have a couple of questions. It won't take long."
"OH!! HOLD UP! I'll be right there! Go get me a shirt" (Not directed at me but to the kid inside).
A large woman opens the door, buttoning up a shirt. I proceed with my questions as if this is happens all the time (it did happen more than once).

Please come back later this week. I want to tell you about the disappearing, reappearing house; my experience in the housing projects and about a man named Floyd.

26 comments:

  1. Wow, that's all I can say. What wondeful experiences you had. (and interesting too)
    I am glad you are back. I have wondered where you were.

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  2. It sounds like you have blogging fodder to last for a good long while, and that is way okay with me. Welcome back!

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  3. I'm glad you had fun, I sold insurance for 2 years going door to door, I loved that until the day I felt the need to start carring a gun!

    If you enjoyed that you should definatly look into a sales job of some sort.

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  5. I am soooo proud of you! Keep ministering to the lonely ones. Love always, Your Secret Admirer ;)

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  6. i can't wait to hear the stories. except. the "woman without a shirt" stories, you can just leave those out.

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  7. Awesome! Love the stories and I can't think of a better person for that job. I smell a book or at least a skit coming out of all this. Keep of the good work! You make our government proud :o)

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  8. I'm so excited about hearing these stories. I'm more excited that you're back!!!!!

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  9. YEAH!!! (I'm missed you so!) Love hearing about your census bureu adventures, and can't wait to hear more!

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  10. Well, I didn't realize census taking could be so full of human interest stories! :)

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  11. The only census worker that came to my house just stopped by to drop off the forms. She actually seemed a little put off that I opened the door LOL (She didn't knock but I knew someone was here b/c my dogs were barking). I did fill out the forms and sent it back within 2 weeks so I guess that's why I didn't have someone come out here and actually ask me the questions :) .

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  12. Yippee, you're back! I missed you. I came by on Monday to see if I had missed a recent post and I hadn't. I prayed "Lord, please let her be alright. Please let her get her inspiration back."

    I love the story of the older man whose heart you were able to get to and the tired Mama's. And the lady who needed a shirt. I just love the musings of the Double Wide Mama!! Sounds like a book you need to write, girl!!

    :)Erin

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  13. Glad your back, been missing ya! But a girl can only spread herself so far, what I've been missing, others have been enjoying!

    Good work!

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  14. Yeah!!! You are back! I have missed you! Can't wait to hear about your adventures!

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  15. I can't wait to read more of these!!!

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  16. that is amazing! what stories you must have from that adventure! :)

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  17. How fun. Oh, how I've missed your blogs (more than I previously realized!) Every day (practically) I have looked on my blog site to the left, hoping there will be a new post from you...and today, it happened!!! :) Whoo hoo! Hope you guys are doing well :)

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  18. I think meeting people is cool too...as long as I am not trying to SELL them something! (Like in so many of my sales jobs I have had).
    What you did for the census would be interesting and wonderful, it is cool to meet different people and look at different places where they live...but I still think the danger of the random freaks would be enough to leave me concerned.
    Are you still doing this, or are you done?
    I don't like the idea of you going out there by yourself, especially at night.
    But I think I have already mentioned that. You just be real careful, girl, ya hear?

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  19. Oh no way... doesn't everyone walk around shirtless at home???

    (Golly, I can't even just wear my jammies at home, for fear that one of the husband's hunting buddies will "pop in" at 4am and help himself to coffee in the kitchen. YIKES!)

    Love your adventures!

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  20. I wondered where you were, glad to see you are back.

    Working with the public is so rewarding, there are so many stories behind the faces and being blessed enough to hear some of them is an experience few get to enjoy.

    I look forward to hearing more :)

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  21. Sounds like somebody's got her inspiration back! Looking forward to the next installment.

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  22. Oh no! Two flat tires and so close together. I thought that stuff only happened to me. What a joy you are to have in the world :D Thanks for handling the census for us.

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  23. Welcome back! I was thrilled to see your comment on Single Mom in the South this morning! Sounds like you've been busy...can't wait to *hear* more!

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  24. Wowzers, can't wait for the stories :)

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  25. I hate to comment on this one again - but i left you something on my blog!

    Have a great Monday!

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  26. What a great experience and a fun way to explore around town.

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"Thank you, and do come back now, ya heah?"
(No she didn't...yes she did.)