January 16, 2010

Census Violence

I'm applying to be an enumerator for the U.S. Census this year — finally putting that sociology degree to good use! — and yesterday I had to go take the employment test.

The test itself was nothing too taxing (because that's the IRS's job, wah-wah!), and mainly asked you to do things like alphabetise names and perform a little basic arithmetic (sample available here). What was infinitely more taxing was restraining myself from strangling one of the other women taking it.

Right from the start she was complaining, in one of those upper-middle-class sense-of-entitlement ways that just drives me absolutely up the wall: first she was mad because nobody told her she would need to bring ID (she had ID with her, so I'm not really sure why this was a problem anyway); then she was mad because it was taking too long for the proctor to check everybody's ID; then she was mad because a few guys turned up late and she didn't see "why we should have to wait for them"; then she was mad because there was noise in the corridor and she "couldn't concentrate" (NB. this was before the test had actually started); and finally she was mad that the proctor wouldn't score her test first, because she didn't want to wait around.

So — ahem — a few choice words for you, madam:

1. I don't know what's so important in your life that you need to rush off — it clearly ain't work because YOU'RE APPLYING FOR A JOB — but when you weren't paying attention to them explaining that you'd need to bring ID, they were also explaining that you should allow two hours for the entire process, which in the end finished after NINETY MINUTES, i.e., ahead of schedule — and this despite the single proctor on duty having to stop what she was doing every five minutes to deal with your incessant kvetching.

2. I suppose it's because the Census Bureau is a government agency — and you're undoubtedly one of those people who likes to constantly remind government employees that your taxes pay their wages — that you feel justified in acting like the proctor is there to service your every unreasonable whim. But, once again, I am forced to remind you in all caps that YOU'RE APPLYING FOR A FUCKING JOB! The conventional approach in such situations is to toady to the person in charge, not to expect them to toady to you. (Sub-point: again, recalling that you are applying for a job and are therefore presumably unemployed, your taxes aren't paying shit, so simmer down.)

3. Since you were working right up to the wire, looked positively terrified when the proctor announced there were only five minutes left, and, judging from the murmuring that went on when you were finally told your score, you did poorly on what is essentially a dumbed down high school maths quiz, I am forced to conclude that you are neither qualified to be a census taker nor qualified to feel high and mighty about anything — so please kindly remember, before you get your velour track pants in a twist next time, that your nice big house in Cambridge doesn't make you a better person.

Thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful writing--and even better insight. Cheers to you.

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