The Boring Word About Stand Up and Be Counted

March 28, 1990

Its time for the census. How many people are living in your house? Most of us can count to ten, that should cover it. Right? Wrong.

My first clue that this is not as simple as counting to ten came with the realization that there are two forms, a long and a short version. It makes me think of April 15 and another form. However, this one is due April 1st (April Fool’s Day) and according to some official someplace the long form only takes 45 minutes to complete. Since only one is six households will be receiving the long form chances are good that only 14 minutes of my time will be required to fill out the short form. Right? Wrong.

I am one of the lucky one in six. The estimate of 45 minutes must be for people who have the family budget on computer and do not discuss the questions with their children.

It took me forty-five minutes to find the right shoes boxes with my receipts for taxes, insurance and utility bills.

My children want to answer every question literally. For instance. How many rooms are in the house? Since the question specified not to count baths and halls the inquiring minds in my house wanted to know whether to count the laundry room, basement and garage? We remain a divided family on this issue and I’m tempted to state I don’t know how many rooms are in my house.

How many people rode to work in your vehicle last week and how long did it take you to get to work? I was quickly reminded that I had driven children to school so they were in the vehicle on my way to work and did the question mean to measure the length of time by the long or short route.

And of course it was very shortsighted of the census compilers to not even consider counting our two dogs and one cat.

Well, the form is complete and on April 1st will be mailed. Maybe in ten years when the next census is done I’ll have figured out how many rooms are in my house. At least it’s all kept confidential for 72 years; maybe by then I’ll have added on a few rooms.