That dog-gone U.S. Census
Until last Monday, we thought our official U.S. Census Form would never arrive on our doorstep. You see, we live by choice in what we like to think is a relatively remote region of the Colorado Rockies.
In winter, about the only people who make it up to “Splendid Isolation,” the name we have given our home, are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon Missionaries. In fact, Wonder Wife and I have speculated that those two missionary groups use our house as a graduation test for missionaries about to be sent out into the real world to find “real” sinners. Hmmn. On second thought, maybe they are actually looking for us.
Come summertime, we may see a few real estate agents who get lost and wander up here in their four-wheel-drive vehicles. For our invited guests, we always provide, in advance, a detailed map. But if they are coming at night and/or do not have a GPS-equipped SUV, we usually meet them where the U.S. Highway meets the county road or we’ll meet them in the nearest town which is ten miles away.
Actually, we are not sure how the census form delivery person reached our place. If he or she had come by SUV or snowmobile, Bandit, our 11-month-old Old English Sheepdog, would have given his “there-is-a-vehicle-out-there” bark. He did not.
Bandit thinks Wonder Wife is his Mommy and, for most things, he turns to her for help. But when something goes bump-in-the-night or something out of the ordinary happens, he runs to me. Bandit considers me the leader-of-the-pack or the Alpha Dog.
Evidently, the census worker or workers left their car down at the bottom of the hill and hiked up the final 600 feet to Splendid Isolation. They tried to ring the doorbell, but it malfunctioned. Nevertheless, Bandit knew someone was at the door and he made a beeline for the upstairs bedroom where I was taking my Winston Churchill-inspired afternoon nap. (This is a practice I acquired because Sir Winston used to say that one could be more productive by dividing the day up with a series of brief, but mind-refreshing, naps. Anyway, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.)
Bandit came close to the bed and gave his someone-on-foot-was-at-the-front-door bark. This is different than his get-out-of-bed-and-come-play-with-me bark. Noting the difference, I complied and, sure enough, there in a plastic bag hanging from the doorknob was our official U.S Census Form. Needless to say, the census takers were long gone.
The first thing Bandit and I noticed about the envelope inside the bag was that the address for our house was not even close to our actual physical address. Sherlock Holmes could not have found our house based on the address printed on the envelope. Perhaps, the census-takers were simply lost, spotted our house, and dropped off a form. (Fortunately, you can correct a faulty physical address on the census form itself.)
In the letter of instructions, we learned our state ranked 15th in the number of states that under-reported the number of people on the last census. Hmmn. If they knew enough to rank all the states in terms of under-reporting, that suggests they must of known the total number of people who should have been in the last census. Oh well.
Wonder Wife asked me to include Bandit in the number of beings residing in our home. Given what we pay out for food, medicine, training, equipment, toys and veterinary care for Bandit, she felt his economic impact merited inclusion in the census.
I found a place to record Bandit’s name, age, and date of birth. But, when it comes to race and ethnicity, the census does not recognize “canine-Americans.” So, Bandit was left out.
Hopefully, by the time of the next census, they will recognize the economic impact of canine-Americans. Although slighted by the U.S. Census, Bandit is giving me that look that says: let’s-drive-ten-miles-to-town-and-mail-the-census-form. Tomorrow, Bandit. Tomorrow.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.