on a long run, on a long run

I got spat on by a census pleb today. The arse-end-of-nowhere Bartley Green AO* with the nonsensical street layout (people who had lived there decades couldn’t tell me how to work out where the next one along was logically. I grew up on terraces, this place is a COMPLETE MINDFUCK) was supposed to be one hour; it took me two hours of legwork, an hour of travel time, and will be another hour of filling out dummy forms. I’m not really getting paid enough for this. On the other hand, the AO on my own street which I’ve been given 6 hours to complete will likely take only 3, with no travel time, and I can run home for tea whenever I like. Swings and roundabouts.

Uncouth expectorators aside, I think I prefer Phase 2. I’m in the groove I was hoping for, and though we now have to visit every house three times and fill in a dummy unless we actually get the form back, we get allocated more time for doing so (which is to say still not enough, in most cases.) It’s much more binary than Phase 1, which I like in grunt work: the workload is heavier, but tighter, with less need for improvisation. I like brain work, but when your workspace is a clipboard in a broken-glass-littered slum, simplicity is nice.** And there’s a very satisfying air of finality to having each house Checked Off, even if it’s a giant mass of dummy forms and not a returned questionnaire in sight: as collectors, we are done with these districts now.

Thunder, the first I’ve heard in ages, was starting to murmur on the western sky as I finished up in that AO. The best you can say of the place is that it’s on a big hill, so home is downhill almost all the way, and downhill I rode, jouncing over the potholes and the tarmac creases of Weoley Castle. The sky just above and ahead was blue in the swirling grey, the boundary between cloud and open sky almost directly above me, and I raced the weather all the way home, the first drops of a summer shower lapping at my heels.

*That’s “Area of Operations”. The actual approved Office for National Statistics technical term is ED, for “Enumeration District”, but I can’t help trying to be operator.
**Also, now that we’re not issuing any replacement forms the load is lighter, even with the requisite paintbrush and, uh, jar of fresh lamb’s blood.

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2 thoughts on “on a long run, on a long run

  1. huntersglenn says:

    I salute you for the job you’re doing. I’m a genealogist, and was saddened by the lack of real information that was on the U.S. Census form last year. They did have a longer form, but that gets sent randomly to people, so most of us had the short form. Name, address, age, marital status. I don’t remember if it asked where the person was born.

    Our 1900 Census asked how long a couple had been married, how many children the wife had had, how many were still alive, where the person was born, where the person’s parents were born, occupation, if the person was an immigrant, then what year they immigrated, and if they were a nationalized citizen (it’s fun to watch the year of immigration change for a person between the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census) and then some statistical things. In 1920, it was asked if there was a radio in the household!

    I’ve worked with a few of the English census years, mostly those in the 1800s, and much nicer. You guys asked relationships earlier than we did (that didn’t start until 1880 for us). The only downside to the English census can be where a non-relative is listed with a household because they were in the house at the time the census was to be filled out. I don’t know if that’s still one of the rules for your census. Ours are who was in the household as of a particular date of the year.

    In this day and time, with the ability to find out practically anything you want to know about a person just by using the internet, it amazes me that some people still get so upset and angry over the census taking – in most cases, it’s actually less nosy than most forms that we have to fill out during our lives. A person shouldn’t have to risk being spit at or on, just because somebody didn’t want to fill out a form (that probably took all of five minutes to fill out). You definitely deserve the pay – shame you can’t get hazard pay for getting spit on.

    • brosencrantz says:

      Ours is pretty developed – type of house, job, last job if you’re unemployed etc. The rule still is that any guests in the household on census day are listed.

      And thanks.

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