America, I Feel You

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

This is not a personal blog by any means, but part of the reason for its origin is my own kind of special horror I experienced last year, watching the economy tank.  Part of seeing the good though, is trying to channel the scrappy ingenuity we all have, and that’s another reason why this blog was published (next entry is about our newest DIY venture; embroidery, which I stopped practicing in 1993, but I’ve got some funky designs up my sleeve, so we’ll see – hula girls, anyone?).

Me, I’ve come off a lengthy time on the dole after being laid off from my job at an Allston design firm.  If you haven’t guessed from the previous entry, I’ma workin’ for the U.S. Census Bureau.  Which brings me to my next two points.

As a recruiter, it’s my job to help staff the troops that will hit the streets come spring to make this decennial’s Census an awesome one.  It’s my job to be out there too, telling pretty much anyone that I see that if they need a job, Uncle Sam is ready and willing to hook them up.  You might see me or someone just like me giving a talk at your church, posting flyers near Ben and Jerry’s, or pretty much doing whatever it takes to spread the word.  If you take us up on it, you’ll see me and my kind passing out sharpened pencils and government exams as you embark on the beginning of the hiring process (don’t let the test intimidate you – ask to practice!).  If you’re over 18 and fit the general requirements, I want YOU.  Yes, you.  This is all about our community, natch.

Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

The above is my job, and I’d say it anyway, but I believe in this.  My work isn’t the easiest, but I’ve started to fall a little in love with it.  It’s the single most inclusive thing I’ve done, and especially after today I feel pretty connected to my city and its residents.  I left work this evening feeling good.

I have to be careful about protecting the privacy of the people with whom I interact, so I’ll say what I can but I must apologize if I sound vague.  I’ve met a ton of people from all parts of my community.  I’ve spoken with Ivy League doctorates, spiritual leaders, single moms, veterans, college students, hipsters and geeks, teachers, skilled laborers; pretty much everyone.  I love the fact that I can offer them a job.  I love that I can tell them that the pay isn’t just fair – it’s great (yes, the wages rock).  I love telling them that the hours are flexible.  What I love best is letting others know that while things might just plain suck right now, there is opportunity out there.  And it’s thrilling to know I can help make that happen.  So while yes, it’s my job to recruit for the U.S. Census, it means something to me.  It’s activism.

Guys, if the above doesn’t move you to check out Census work, I don’t know what will.  But I do mean it.  If times are tight right now, try it.  You can dial the national office at 1-866-861-2010.  If you live in Boston, you can always contact me right here and I’ll walk you through it.  To reach the Suffolk County office you can always call 617-848-3260, too.

I was always pretty infatuated with my field of study in college (anthropology).  One thing I’ve loved best is the stories I get to hear from well, everyone.  I like tucking each tale in the back of my head and digging it up later like some rich archaeological find.  I still think about the people I’ve interviewed in the past with affection.

So far, what floors me is that the stories I’ve heard in the field doing RA (recruiting) work are all the same.  The ex waitress who was laid off last February (no, no such person exists – she’s an amalgam of some of the people with whom I’ve spoken – I really can’t use any specifics), has the same recent history as the out of work ER doctor (again, not a real person here), and both of their tales aren’t really much different from my own.  This giant economic mess has been equal opportunity in a sense, stretching across all societal strata.  I’m here in the thick of it.  I want to hear the stories.

I want to hear them because I can empathize.  I get it.  I think it makes us all feel a little better when we can see that our economic woes aren’t ones that we need to hold close to our chests.  We’re all going through it, to some extent.  And even these last few days have served as testament to that.

In short; America, I feel you.  Keep it coming.

(Please note that the above are my own thoughts about working for the Census.  It is in no way associated with official U.S. Census Bureau outreach content.)

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