Every morning was like Christmas morning. I’d get up and first thing look at my census cellphone. It would say “You have received work for today.” I’d log in and BLAM-o, I’d have like 75 cases. A ridiculous amount, I began to understand. I could do maybe 20 a day if I was lucky and every door I knocked on was opened by a non-hostile.
I got used to the deluge of doors that needed knocking-on. I began to crave them. I missed the whole process during down time, or on the rare day I didn’t work.
We thought the deadline for census-taking was Sept 30, so we knocked like crazy. Mad-knocking. Huge job. The powers that be approved — encouraged — overtime and superhuman hours.
To me, the harder/faster thing felt a little like we were sealing our own fate. A little like when they made the first convicts going “up the [Hudson] River” construct their own prison — Sing Sing.
Cases got harder. Most everywhere I attempted to enumerate, I’d find Notices of Visit (NOVs) already in door jambs, flapping in the bushes, tromped over at doormats.
One rather helpful little Hasidic boy said, “That’s so over,” pointing to my Official US Census briefcase.
And so here we are.
In New York, we were done, almost entirely by the original panic deadline on Sept. 30. When the court ruled that the census could proceed to its original end date, Oct. 31, we knew it was a pyrrich victory, at least here. There was hardly any door that hadn’t been knocked on, any domicile without data.
In recent days my case list plummeted. Some “Christmas mornings” the message was that I had work, and I’d find one case, and then an hour later it was gone.
Now, there are none.
I’m looking at my stuff: my forms — “Who to Count,” “NOV” and Language Identification Card”; my clipboard; my Census briefcase; my badge; my very cool “official business” dashboard sign. Even the much-feared iPhone.
I will have to return them all.
Soon I will not be a census taker.