Call me Special Agent NoRFU. This week I was sworn in as a Census worker to help with the Non-Response Follow Up effort to chase down all you scofflaws who didn’t send back your Census forms earlier this year.
Early into the first of four full days of training – I haven’t spent this much time in an office in six years – I started asking myself:
Why exactly am I doing this?
Why am I putting my family through this?
Is it worth the neighborly goodwill I’m using up to help with my children?
How can I repay friends for four different afterschool playdates for Eddie, plus two other friends to walk him to school?
And how many hours do I have to work to pay for two extended preschool days plus a day at an in-home daycare (which fell through, so we have to rush completion of medical paperwork to qualify Carla at the backup daycare place)?
Why am I not spending this time on freelancing? (I’m especially jazzed up about writing after last weekend’s journalism school reunion in New York, so this one especially stings.)
Why did I have to spill pork chop marinade on my freshly ironed pants two minutes before walking out the door?
Is it a bad sign that only an hour into the first day, I already wanted to be someplace else?
Who are all these people in my class, and why don’t they have real jobs?
Do I really want to knock on all those doors?
What if I can’t get out in time to pick Carla up from preschool?
I survived the first day of training, worried mostly about the Carla pickup question. We spent the afternoon getting fingerprinted, and I jumped the line when I saw time was getting tight. I got to Carla’s school with only five minutes to spare.
Somehow I managed to set aside the worrying long enough to pay attention to find that my class includes a laid-off mortgage branch manager, an architect, an insurance saleswoman, an at-home mom, a recording engineer, a Vietnam veteran earning a master’s degree in pastoral counseling and a 30-ish woman who just found her birth dad.
And now my entire training class knows my wife’s ringtone. She called to tell me the pediatrician’s office – where I zoomed by this morning to drop paperwork required by the backup daycare place for tomorrow – needs her in for a hearing test at 4:20 p.m. I wasn’t sure I could leave training early enough, so my Lovely Bride was going to take her.
But the booster seat was in the back of my car.
The Census training wrapped early, and I made it in time to pick up Carla with plenty of time for the doctor’s appointment. But the day’s transit took me from home to preschool, backup daycare to fetch papers, to doctor’s office to drop them, to training, to preschool to pick up Carla, back to doctor’s office then home to cook kielbasa on the grill, biscuits from a can and corn from a freezer bag.
Why did I take this job?