Thursday, May 06, 2010

She was well dressed, if somewhat conservatively in her black knit top and matching black pants. She was pretty. Short hair, olive skin. Asian, I think. Her eyes were puffy and red, her cheeks flushed. She had been crying, or was just about to. She was walking from a residence toward her car and I thought, “She must be coming from a wake. Someone has passed and she put on her all black clothes and drove here to sit with the family.”

Then I noticed her clipboard. Who takes a clipboard to a funeral? It was the sort that a foreman carries, or a cop – metal, with a hinged lid that opens to a compartment about an inch-and-a-half deep.

I mulled it over a minute or two and then it came to me. She was a census worker.

I can only imagine the confrontation that led to her tear-swollen eyes. Did the doorbell wake up a sleeping third-shift worker? Did the insistent knocking prove one thing too many for a harried toddler-herding mother? Perhaps the person behind the door at 2710 David Street believes there was a shooter on the grassy knoll. A government plot to blow up the World Trade Centers. That the census is one more way for an overly intrusive government to maltreat its citizens. If so, a census worker of Asian decent would have fit all too neatly into his or her conspiracy addled brain.

All she wanted was a number. “How many people live in your home?”

But some people just don’t want to be counted.

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