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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

By the Numbers, and the Book

There has to be a better way to count people. Grant it, we didn't trek to Bethlehem on a donkey, but couldn't we use satellite imaging or something? I was confused by the whole process of counting students, but we must have done well, because we received a certificate for our good work, (See photo below.) Our good work involved hanging posters in the dorms and letting census workers sit in the Coates Center lobby. I think I should get a certificate for working with Louise (above, left) every month.

Louise works for the census bureau and her job is to do a monthly count of residents in a specific dorm and interview ten of them. This month it is Susanna Hall. She deserves a certificate too. She doesn't just sit at a table and I doubt there is a better census taker in the nation. Let me lay out the evidence.

Louise is a rule follower. Despite the fact that she has met me monthly for about two years, she never strays from her script: "Hello, I'm Louise and I am taking a census of Susanna Hall." Yes, Louise, I know you. Then she shows me the card that lists six options for the type of facility we are discussing and I identify that it is, in fact, a college residence hall, just as it was 16 months ago. Louise takes no shortcuts as she hands me the census brochure that I immediately recycle. I then complete and sign the confidentiality agreement that is required annually but makes her feel better to have monthly, because she is a rule follower. (I don't know if the agreement covers blogging.) This is followed by her explanation that her supervisor may contact me to evaluate her performance. I wish he would. Louise would get an A+.

Louise holds people accountable. She described to me, in great detail, her experience with the census worker who came to Louise's door. That woman never had a chance. She was not a rule follower and Louise made her re-do the interview following the script. I am more of a spirit of the law than a letter of the law person, despite being in charge of student conduct. I would have failed as a census worker.

Louise is my third census worker. Shedrick and Diana were my first two. Shedrick resurfaces once in awhile. I was his first client and he was nervous, so I tried to be really nice and helpful and just kind of got attached to him. As time passed he became uber-confident and started showing up wearing bling and alligator-skin cowboy boots. I like to think I played a confidence-boosting role in that new swagger.

The census people have to interview ten students a month and ask them questions that are illogical to ask college students. I could have delegated this long ago, but instead, I e-mail the students and tell them to be nice to these people and cooperate. The students assume I am a rule follower and want to comply.

I regularly receive articles in the mail cut out from the local paper that contain Trinity references. These come from Louise. She likes to add a personal touch to her work. She doesn't own a computer and I suppose doesn't know that I see these articles on-line and also read the paper. I don't care. I think it is sweet that she clips articles and mails them. Who does that? Not every census worker, I assure you.

So, I will recycle my certificate for my good work in 2010. It doesn't mean much to me. The clippings - those I will save. I will also print this post and mail it to Louise. But no matter how you count it... we won't be even.


Noelle MacGregor said...

Love it! Our census worked told us she was glad we were slackers and didn't send in our stuff because it meant she had a job. I have a feeling that's NOT part of the script.

Miss you, Dave!

P.S. My word verification is trant.

Noelle MacGregor said...

Oh great. I see I have a typo. I know you have the grammar/spelling police reader. Hope he misses that comment.

This time my verification word is oostli.