Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Senseless Bureau

Jen: "Hello?"
NCB: "Hello. This is the National Census Bureau."

This is how it began.
Have any of you received this phone call yet?
The National Senseless Bureau calls to confirm that the information on your census form is correct.
Did you fill out that form? The most complicated question for me was remembering all my kids' birthdates. Granted, there are a lot of kids to remember, but I am a mom and I do have to know them frequently for important stuff like school registration and and sports teams. Oh, and birthday parties.

Then the Senseless Bureau calls and asks questions like these: "Which of these categories does Eve fall into? Biological child, foster child, adopted child, or other?" I answer, trying to shorten this agonizing process, "Biological child. All of them are." To which the Senseless Bureau responds, "Thank you. Which of these categories does Hyrum fall into? Biological child, foster child, adopted child, or other." Hello? Didn't you hear me? Didn't you read my form? Then questions about race. Then . . .

This annoying call took a whopping ten minutes of my time. It took all of three minutes to fill out the form, stamp it, and put it in the mail.

For all the complaining about how much the census costs, this development is just too much. They need to pay people to call me, bug me, question me, and waste my time? Didn't they read on my form that I have six children living at home? (Yes, I filled it out correctly. I do have an oldest daughter that on April 1 was living elsewhere. Yes, she would have been counted somewhere else. Sigh.)

I have a degree in history. I've used the census information more than most Americans. I researched the immigration patterns of St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, for my junior thesis. I know why it's important. I agree. But why does the government overspend our tax dollars and underestimate our intelligence? I want my money spent more efficiently.

Jen: "Who do I talk to to complain about frivolous spending on your salary?"
NCB: "Thank you for your time."
Jen: "Good-bye."
Sorry the soapbox came out again.

Linking up to Alphabe-Thursday and Mama Kat's writing workshop. Mama Kat's prompt: end with the words "good-bye."

Jenny Matlock

Mama's Losin' It


  1. It showed up on my caller id last, so glad I was too tired to pick it up. Why do we fill out the form, if they are just going to call and ask us the same questions?

    Do they think that between then and now, we have changed our minds about our children's names and where they live?

    That's another place we can make budget cuts.

    In their defense, I noticed that they only had a place to mark: biological child, foster child, adopted child, etc for the first 4 kids. Because when it came to Corbin, I was actually excited to mark adopted and there wasn't a spot. So that's probably why they had to ask that on the younger ones. Hopefully they only asked on the younger ones....

  2. Oh my gosh, I had the exact same experience! I wasted the first few minutes complaining about the redundancy. I was amused that for each child I had to confirm that they were indeed "white" as opposed to some other color as our "biological" children. As if there would be some other magical option. Also, when did I switch from "Caucasian" to "white"? I'm offended.

  3. Yeah, that's annoying.

    I can so picture and "hear" your irritation with them. Especially because you're just not much of a phone person as it is. hehehe

    Well, at least it's over now.

  4. Amen! As I was reading your post I could feel your annoyance and I sympathize with you. We filled out the census, but haven't received any annoying calls yet and I hope that I don't.

  5. I sounds as though your government may have been taking Silly lessons from ours!

  6. What? You mean the United States goverenment isn't the well-oiled machine that I've always thought it was???

    I just don't know who I am anymore.

  7. Hi! They didn't call me about my form...but they rang my doorbell to ask me information about my neighbor. How strange, huh?
    Of course, it was during dinner time! Craziness!
    :) Jen

  8. That is so strange. I completely agree with you, a waste.

  9. Seriously spending shamelessly to secure information already given.

  10. Jen, I filled out everything on the form except my phone number. So they will have to do some digging to call me. I only have a cell phone and the bill does not even come to me.

    When I filled it out, I asked myself why do they need my phone number? Of course only to bother me on things that should be completely clear.

  11. I know! Why do they bother to call you when you already filled in the form? Ugh.

  12. didn't get that call yet. looking forward to it.

    bring on the soapbox segment, I love 'em!

  13. It could have been Danny that called you. Thanks to the census, Danny has had a job for a couple of weeks that paid pretty well. Why the evening calls and visits - because that's the only time that most people are home. Why the phone calls to follow up. Believe it or not not every one was as smart and capable of filling it out correctly as we were - more than 50%. Have American's really been that "dumbed down"? Danny, my resident census taker, would sit for hours in a secluded room - remember all information is confidential and he didn't dare risk any of us seeing this personal information - making the neccessary corrections and fixes and phone calls. If you received a phone call verifying what you all ready filled out then it very well may have been their "Checks and Balance" system. If your neighbor didn't fill in their census and did not answer their door after 3 tries then the neighbors were asked. Is it really that big a deal? Seriously 10 minutes every 10 years? I'm a genealogist. What I'd give to have 100% correct census records over the past 200 years. To have listed each child and member of the family correctly, their relations, their ages, heck even their birthdates. I would even like to know the color of their eyes, hair, personalities.....
    As far as the government underestimating our inteligence? Maybe we've given them reason to. Who's our President and congress full of? Who voted them in? That's my soap box for the day.

  14. how odd. i haven't gotten the call...but i had my own frustrating experience. i live in a condo the census bureau came around and left a few "missed you" forms at our front gate. those properties are not i thought i would call the CB and let them know..big mistake. 1 hour...yes, 1 hour later (no matter how many times i told them it wasn't my form, that i sent mine in already--it just wouldn't click)--i finally what you want, i am just telling you, no one lives there.
    2 days later, another "missed you" form was at the gate. i ignored it.
    such a shame--big waste
    by the way...beautiful, beautiful baby

  15. That goes way beyond annoying. I think I'll jump up on your soapbox with you.

    What a waste!


  16. Cracking me up! I totally agree on the waste, I've seen people wandering our neighborhood confirming info and my mom got one of those annoying calls. She said the guy couldn't speak English which made it all the more frustrating. They asked if my 2 yr old nephew had been in prison! ARGH.

  17. why bother sending the form in the first place? why not just call?

  18. Thank goodness I do not have a home phone!! Mercy...that would drive me INSANE!

    ~angela @ peonypatch

  19. LOL! No I did not get this call. Thankfully. They probably do have to call and check on a certain percentage of them to verify that they have been filled out by the people who actually live at that address. :-)

  20. Hm, that is irritating. I've been working for the census for about a month now and you should only be getting a call if you didn't send one back or it was unclear. There are a lot of scams going around, so if they call you back, be sure to get an ID and the supervisor's phone number.

    What's really irritating is people who refuse to mail theirs in or call. We are required to visit them ten times before giving up! Now that's a waste of money.

  21. That is hilarious! I haven't received the call...yet.

    How cool is it your thesis was done about my backyard? Ok, so I'm in Clay Cty...but still it's just a stone's throw away! :)

  22. Maybe I'm naive, but in this computerized age where our very homes can be seen from space by satellite and every move we make seems to be in some data base somewhere, why do we still need a census?

  23. Oddly enough, my husband sent an angry letter to our mayor on the same topic this morning: wasted tax dollars. No wonder the government is broke.

  24. great post and it is hilarious that sending our forms back wasn't enough.

    ps - thanks for the comment earlier

  25. I can understand them calling a percentage of people to check on accuracy etc, but they could at least use a bit of common sense with the questions!!

  26. That's the government for ya ;-)

  27. My story is worse. I was sitting in the living room when I head the front door open and close. When I picked up the mail shortly after, there was a form stuck between the doors: Sorry I missed you. Please call me between 6 and 8 pm. Signed by a Senseless worker.

    Fumed. Forgot about it until last Sunday when the doorbell rang. Another Senseless worker who'd come to my door wanting in. "Some of them got lost." Yeah, right. Asks the stupid questions and how to spell the names. I offered to fill it out and she told me she had to do it. Good grief!

    I completed the form in 2 minutes the day it arrived, stamped it, affixed a return address label, and put it in the mail the next morning.


  28. Pretty funny take on this week's does all seem so senseless, unless, like you, I am tracking genealogical information...Namaste

  29. SAD to SAY but this is all too true! Good S word, however!

  30. I'm just gonna say this. Aren't these pare of the jobs that the economy recovery is providing.

    Wow, I feel so much better about the gazillion tax dollars being spent now.

    And on that note...

    What a timely stop on our little journey through Alphabe-Thursdays Letter "S"!

    I feel so much better about our national debt now that they have clarified your children situation.




  31. Didn't fill out the form, didn't receive the phone call. But if I do, I'm hanging up.

  32. That is unbelievable! YES a waste of money! I loved this post! haha! funny, my post today was a little about the census woman coming to my house.

  33. Love how you started off the post with another picture of Evie. Is it your way of pacifying the frustration?

    I'm lucky in that I never had to deal with the census. We moved out of the country before this one came around so I never had to fill out any form or take any phone calls.

    That said, it does seem quite illogical that people would have to fill out forms and then have to verify that all the information on there is correct over the phone with a stranger who may or may not be paying attention. For all you know, they could just be reading the script and thinking to themselves how they can't wait to get off work and go enjoy a beer somewhere. Plus, it's not like you filled out the form inaccurately the first time but then remembered that you actually had another child you left out.

    There's a lot of things that our government does that makes one question about how they are running things up there.

  34. I didn't get a call yet...I wonder if they called you because of your large family...more room for errors! We're a family of they probably figured I got it right! I agree though...why fill out the form if they are going to call anyway....

  35. LOL ... that is just hilarious ... in a real annoying time wasting, tax dollar wasting kinda way.

  36. Somehow we got skipped in all of the census mess- no form & no calls, our address doesn't exist apparently. I'm just glad I don't have to talk to irritating people (that I pay) who are forced to ask stupid questions.

  37. they came to my door, did the same thing - while letting the flies in. That is an adorable picture BTW

  38. yep yep. total waste of time, money and brain cells.

  39. What's really happening is that we're being profiled. That's right "Large Family Profiling". I've deduced that the only people being called are those who have more than 6 people living in their home- those of use who had to "write in" additional residents. When my Senseless Bureau representatitve called I soon discovered she couldn't read- she tried to pronounce "correctional facility" numerous times- because yes, they have to read their list of options for each and every person living in our home"Was my one year old at a conectional faculty on April 1" NO! None of us were! But there's no need to save time- they're being paid by the hour. Those are 10 minutes I will never get back.

  40. Hm, interesting. I received no call (9 people in house) and no note. Maybe they talked to my 5 year old?? It is sad that many people cannot answer this form easily and that you cannot just say to the caller "all (fill the blank) white, never been to correctional facility, biological" or whatever is your situation to expediate it. What annoyed me was the letter that came first to tell me the census was coming.

  41. hm...we have had only one call, but only because for some reason they had us listed under a different address...but that would drive me a little nutty to have to repeat the information after having done it already...

    Blessings & Aloha!
    I am getting around to more S posts...little by little :o) hope you get a chance to pop over and if you do please leave a comment so that I know you were there :o)

    ...also...What a wonderful family photo on your header of your beautiful family :o)

  42. They keep calling here too and I refuse to answer or call them back! That was the purpose of mailing the darn thing! Aggrh!