Friday, July 16, 2010

Cecil the Census man

So last Friday, Jaymz and I were getting ready for his 1950's themed office party when I asked him to go roll the windows down in the car to air it out (since our AC was broken, it was damn hot out last week, and we were also giving a ride to one of his co-workers). He didn't come back for a long time, and when he did he told me that he had been stopped by this census-taker guy, Cecil, who wouldn't let him go.

This is what we looked like
when Cecil came by on Friday.
But we filled out the census and sent it back the same day we got it, I thought, and then dismissed it. A few minutes later, the guy knocked on our door, and that time I decided to talk to him. He was under the impression that we had filled out the census at our old address (we moved in March) but that was not the case, and somehow it was as if we didn't fill it out in the first place. Well, we were already late leaving for the party, so I assured Cecil that we had indeed filled out our census form, and he left...very reluctantly.

(I should mention that this guy had a stutter. Nothing against folks with speech difficulties, but it made him very challenging to communicate with because he had trouble getting a whole sentence out....and then when he finally did, none of his explanations made any sense. He was very "persistent in an off-putting kind of way," as Jaymz put it. And he wouldn't leave. It was starting to get a little creepy.)

We left for the party around 6, and right around the time when a woman dressed like Julia Child was serving us steak and saying "Bon appetit!," this guy was leaving a message on our answering machine, with Cecil Censusman's name on the caller ID. (Is this starting to sound fishy to you...?) In the message, he said he had figured out what happened with our other form and our address, and asked us to call him back. I asked Jaymz, "You gave him our phone number!?" and he said that Cecil wouldn't leave him alone so he had to tell him something. At that point we decided I would call the regional census office on Monday to find out if this guy was a legitimate government employee, or just someone trying to get our personal information and rip us off (and then call him back).

Then, on Saturday morning, Jaymz, my mom, Daniel, and I were getting in the car to go to the fabric store when we saw Cecil getting up from a shady spot in the grass by the street. He said, "Hi, I'm Cecil Censusman...remember me? From yesterday...? I called you...and I left a message, too!" (It was like he was trying to convince us that we should care.) Jaymz cut him off and said, "Yeah. I remember." I took one look at him and said to Jaymz, "I will talk to him!" I went over to him and explained again: we filled out the census from our current address and mailed it in on time. Why do we need to do it again?

Well apparently it was lost, something to do with us living in a place that was newly constructed at the time of the mailing (which makes no sense because we received the form at that address in the first place, so I don't know why that would be a problem). At that point I was pretty frustrated with the guy because he wouldn't let me fill out the form myself (in front of him) and seal it and mail it (while he watched) and there is no way to fill it out online either, apparently. So I ended up giving him our birthdays and watched him fill out the form for me—in pencil. I also noticed that while he was wearing a badge that said US Census Bureau, it didn't have his photograph on it and his name was written across the bottom in Sharpie. (...Maybe that's just how they do it at the Census Bureau?)

So I walked back to the car and relayed my account of what had just happened to Jaymz and my mom, and I started feeling even worse about it...but what can a guy do with our address, phone number, and birthdays? (I mean besides stalk us...which it felt like he was already doing.) I asked Jaymz to go ask Cecil for his card, or some kind of identification (since he was still there, squatting on the ground by the sidewalk trying to put his things into his bag). Jaymz came back after another long conversation with this in his hand:...Looks pretty official (though the bottom portion with his information was also filled out in pencil). I guess the guy was just weird.

Jaymz saw him again on Monday morning parked outside our house with a paper sign on the back of his car that read, "Official business, makes frequent stops." Cecil waved enthusiastically at Jaymz when he saw him.

I just hope he doesn't show up at our door again anytime soon.
(Or ever.)

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