Sunday, February 7, 2010

U.S. Census Training: Day III

My third and final night of training for the U.S. Census filled in a lot of blanks about the upcoming first phase of the national initiative: counting every American that resides in “Group Quarters”—locales whose “residents” don’t hold a permanent address, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters and mobile food vans.

The great news: At evening’s end, I was informed that I am to show up for duty at 10 a.m. Monday to shadow a crew leader. I will follow a staffer with a stack of designated addresses to secure appointments for March 30—the date of the actual national count—to literally tally participants at each facility.

And on March 31, across the nation, Census workers will canvas pre-assigned locales such as parks, under bridges, streets, subway stations and such—from midnight to 7 a.m.—to garner a count of homeless people who are actually sleeping in a given location. We will travel in teams, with flashlights and fluorescent vests, to assure safety, securing as accurate a count as possible, over the course of that one night, so that there is no redundancy.

When I asked the office supervisor if I would be participating in that activity, he responded, “Yes… if you’re comfortable with that?” My response: “Are you kidding? I’m a night crawler. I live by the light of the moon.” It sounds fascinating.

At the end of the evening, he shared with me that I had made a favorable impression on those I had worked with over my three evenings of training, that my “positive attitude and professional manner” convinced them I would be an asset to the operation. I walked home with an extra bounce in my step, feeling proud and gratified. As I mentioned in the previous post, I regard this as a new adventure, unlike anything I've ever done, professionally or personally. And any fodder worthy of an anecdote… as I’ve held as a life-long mandate… is worth experiencing.

This temp job will likely offer 30 hours of work a week, for at least the next two months (and if I’m lucky, into the summer months)—and with my unemployment benefits expiring in two weeks, the timing couldn’t be better. With no one yet answering my call for a full-time job to knock home runs out of the park with my writing skills, I’m happy to take it, baby. Let the adventure begin.