It was like I stepped back in time the moment my feet touched the ground.
They invited me into their living room in the garage. It was furnished with a couch set featuring tan upholstery with flowers accented with a wood frame reminiscent of the 1980’s. They had an ancient box TV that played an old John Wayne rerun.
I felt like I walked into my grandparent’s house although this couple was probably in their late 50’s. Their 20 something year old son was visiting sitting on the recliner. The man was grilling burgers outside and offered me one along with a beer.
It was a calm and relaxing atmosphere but I had important government work to do. As I was working with the woman on the census questionnaire, her husband popped in and I thought I heard him say something about not to forget Lori. Earlier they mentioned an elderly parent who lived with them.
I started to fill out Lori’s name when the woman stated that I misheard because no one by the name of Lori lived there. I laughed saying that I couldn’t fill out the census on ghosts. The woman stated that Lori was the name of her sister who died two years ago. I was mortified and started apologizing profusely. The woman said maybe it was a sign that Lori was still with them.
This year we had to collect the census data 4 to 6 months after the census date. I am surprised that I didn’t run into anyone who reported a family member that was alive during but passed away after the census date. Maybe someone did and they just didn’t tell me, I don’t know. For the census date we had to collect the info that was valid on April 1st. Yeah, April Fool’s Day and Census Day were on the same day in 2020. No joke.
These people were some pretty decent folks. I almost wished I could have deleted their info and come back another night at the end of my shift for a burger and beer. We could sit and watch old movies. We could talk, laugh, and pretend it was 1985.
They asked if I was sure I didn’t want something on the way out, water perhaps. I said I wanted everyone to be as nice as them. I smiled as I waved good-bye wishing I could have stayed for the burger and beer. But it was time to move on to the next house.