Although the windowless room with little kid desks reminded me of driver’s ed- the Census ain’t half bad so far. We get to sharpen pencils (ahh the smell of elementary school) and even fill out our name, social security number, and signature 500 times on separate papers (I’ve started to really question my signature, time to come up with something more loopy and illegible). Meanwhile I have three things to look at: a janky poster taped to the chalkboard, my crew leader’s poofy curled bangs, and Jesus quotes all over the wall. You would think the Fillmore Church of Christ could pull down the yellowed xerox propaganda for the US Government, but hell what do I know. Their messages are cryptic: “YOU CAN’T BE WHO YOU ARE IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE. YOU ARE GOD’S OWN CHILD,” but I think they really meant, “GOD KNOWS YOU HAVE WEED IN YOUR SHOE and He will allow you to GET SHANKED in the projects if you don’t GIVE IT TO YOUR PASTOR after Sunday School.”
While blocking out the woman reciting government jibberish from a book, I slyly peek over each shoulder to check out the other Census troopers. A few old guys, one homeless woman, and three other 20 somethings. Immediately I start looking for what’s wrong with them. Black eyes, train track veins, lobotomy-induced twitching? Surprisingly they are all normal and seem to be in my exact situation.
I fill out my basic information over and over and thank the lord that high school and STAR testing are ancient history. I pity my future children for suffering no. 2 pencils and bubbles for decades. I bless the lord for this once in a lifetime chance to zone out in the general direction of my job manual while racking up $22/hr just for being there, not to mention the paid commuting time and reimbursed bus fares.
Next are fingerprints. We move to the “social room” which is an x-80s prom auditorium. There are rows and rows of picnic tables with bright yellow plastic tablecloths, and I count about 214 identical vases of fake yellow and red roses in the whole room. The wall is plastered all the way around with photos of the alleged congregation. I sit with the other previously funeomployed kids and talk about our favorite Burmese spots in The City. I sell my identity to the government in an extremely thorough fingerprinting session, pencil in my hours including the anticipated commute home, and ride off into the sunshine at 3:30pm. Not bad for my first day on the job.