So, tell me about your neighbors…
I always felt like the neighborhood gossip when I had to ask neighbors to fill out the census questionnaire as proxies for neighbors. It was especially uncomfortable when their neighbors were home.
It wasn’t out of the norm to have people not answer their doors when they saw me pull up bedecked in my census apparel. I decided to not take it personally when people didn’t answer. Suppose (which isn’t hard to do) that they might have COVID. I didn’t want them to answer their door if they did.
I once went up to a door that had caution tape and signs that said beware. I think it would be a great idea to mark your house if you are under quarantine. Since it wasn’t close to Halloween, I thought the people inside either had COVID or were murdered. I didn’t want anything to do with that.
However, sometimes I would be prompted to find a proxy to fill out the census on behalf of the person sitting inside of their house not answering their door. On one occasion, this happened to me while I was visiting a duplex. When I was nearing the end of the interview with the proxy, the person who I was supposed to be interviewing came outside and asked me to move my car.
I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it was to ask questions about the guy and have him show up. His door was right next to his neighbor’s door. I felt like I was talking crap about somebody and didn’t realize the person I was talking about was behind me.
I guess I really didn’t care too much because the guy was rude. I felt sorry for the person who lived next door to him though. When he found out I was asking about him and his family, he said he didn’t believe in all of that census sh!t. Now could I get my car out of his driveway. I had to stop the interview rather abruptly.
I thanked the proxy and gladly was on my way. You should’ve seen my case notes for that visit. I’ll have to say that working for the census was never boring.
It was strange because some people were very reluctant to say anything about their neighbors. Then there were other people that filled me in on a lot more than I asked.