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.