Saturday, March 20, 2010

Should a Gentleman Offer a Tiparillo to a Census Taker?

Yesterday afternoon I took the test to become a 2010 U.S. Census taker. I’d love to bullshit you and say that I received a perfect score, but the fact of the matter is that two of my answers were incorrect. This would be a bit embarrassing if the test hadn’t been the most singularly unclear, poorly worded, and sad-ass use of the tax payer money that I ever hope to encounter. This is not just sour grapes. I have a couple Master’s degrees, and I was flummoxed by how over-complicated and obtuse the coding and questions were.

Which made me especially concerned for two members of my test group who could barely speak English. I can only hope they filled in the dots on the test answer form in the shape of a Smiley Face or a skull and crossbones. The odds of this producing as many correct answers would be about equal to what they might have scored anyway, and it would have been much more fun.

But no matter. My 97 points puts me well above the required 70 needed to strap on a bag of materials, grab an I.D., and head out to pester the indolent souls who have deigned not to return their mail-in questionnaires. And though it may be a while before I learn if I’ve been hired as an “enumerator,” I thought, having taken the test, that I was fairly prepared for what might be expected of me should this come to pass.

I THOUGHT I was prepared until I came upon the vintage Tiparillo ad (above), which clearly illustrates that I am grossly off the mark. Apparently I will be required to undergo massive amounts of plastic surgery- face lift, tummy tuck, and most importantly, the insertion of very large breast implants- find an extremely low-cut polyester jumpsuit in a radically offensive shade of green, and learn how to purse my lips suggestively. I think I can muster the last of these, (I WAS young once myself, you know), but I’m seriously wondering if the $18.95 per hour that I might make will cover all of the other steps that are apparently necessary for me to pursue this career choice.

Unfortunately, the Tiparillo ad is unclear as to whether I would have to accept a smoke if a gentleman should offer me one on the job. NOTE TO SELF: Ask FOS, (that’s Field Office Supervisor for you un-census-lingo-initiated), if accepting a cigarillo is mandated census taker behavior…

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No, Madam. Cats cannot be counted as children...

This Friday at 2:00 P.M., I will be taking the test required to become a 2010 U.S. Census taker. You're jealous, I know. But only the creme de la creme of highly trained professionals, (I believe the elite fraternity will be limited to a mere 56,000 of us), will be selected to niggle the details of who's living in your back room out of you. We'll have you revealing the sex, race, age, immigration status and home phone numbers of everyone who's ever spent the night on your Jennifer convertible before you have a chance to say, "Bob's NOT my uncle, and get your foot out of my door!"

Making the decision to try to become a census taker wasn't easy. Even though I've been out of work for nearly two years and hoping that one of the positions for which I've applied at The New York Times, the CIA, or Auto Zone might come through, this opportunity was simply too good to pass up.

So... the test. Believe it or not, (according to the online sample exam), you have to know how to multiply decimals in order to become a census taker. This is not my forte, but I believe I'm capable enough to remember where the decimal point should go. More difficult though, is trying to comprehend why I need this skill to check a box on a form. Now a foot race I could understand. I mean, I don't expect everyone to instantly fall for my census-taking charms. But happily I'll be paired with a similarly well-trained professional who I'm hoping is even slower and fatter than I am. (I know a bit about the use of a decoy from having watched NCIS and from the aforementioned CIA job application). But who am I to question anyone who's willing to pay me $18.95 an hour to get a little exercise and to find out embarrassingly private details about my neighbors?

So wish me luck, and if, in the next few weeks, you hear a knock at the door and see a slightly graying woman with a clipboard in her hand, please remain calm, remember that cats cannot be counted as children, (no matter how much you love them), and let's begin with your name, age, and phone number....

Saturday, March 13, 2010


So I've decided to write a book of "AGING HAIKU"- poems about my advancing age composed in the traditional Japanese, non-rhyming, 3-line format of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.

There's something very Zen about the process, though this may be simply because I've written most of the haiku while wearing a t-shirt, kimono, and pair of socks.

Anyway, here are some of my current favorites:

Low on Lipitor.
Arteries ask, "Is that cheese?"
Fly to CVS.

Do you remember
when you remembered when you
could remember? What?

Listen to The Byrds.
Bless Crosby's strong new liver.
And I turn, turn, turn,

Gray like rain at dusk.
Clairol number 2-1-2.
Six dollars. Sunshine.

Falling now. Sagging.
Like branches in heaviest snow.
Gravity. Damn. Damn.

Run, Lover, run fast.
Hot flash. Mood swing. Un-oh. I
may have to kill you.

I need no tampons.
Midol and Motrin are gone.
Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

More to come. Until then, arigato, Mr. Roboto.