Thursday, July 14, 2011

Everybody Counts

It's a Census year in Canada, all the ones ending in 1 are, I believe. June was the census month, and my household received two copies of the official form, one addressed to the basement. There's no basement, not even a crawl space you could hide a body in. Normal people just throw out an extra form like that. But me, I'm not normal people. It says it has to be filled out, by law. I can't just throw it in the recycling. I call the number on the form. The woman says I only have to do one.

"So I can do two for fun?" I ask, because that's what sort of idiot I am.

"If you want to." Good grief. How the heck are we going to count who lives here, if that's the advice they give? But I do do two, but by the electronic method. I log into the website and enter the code from the form, and then enter an accurate count of who actually lives here. For the second form I enter zero in the number field. No one lives in the non-existent basement. Why do I do this? I expect it to reject it, and I enjoy feeling superior to computers, and being stupidly accurate. To my surprise the site has a page ready for my response, with half a dozen reasonable suggestions for why there might be zero people at an address. I pick "does not exist or apartment has been merged with main dwelling," which perfectly describes the situation.

I'm impressed. Now you can see I'm not cranky about all questionnaires. Just the vast majority of poorly written ones. My only complaint is that they required every person in the household to be classified as either male or female, no other option. Requiring one or the other has caused pain and persecution for a lot of people. Biology isn't always binary, but boxes on forms and societal pressure cause people to be physically forced into one box or the other shortly after birth, even when they aren't. The expectation and the forced compliance are so pervasive that a lot of people don't even know that not everyone is born into one of the boxes. Everyone wants to know if it's a boy or a girl, but for one in every 1500 to 2000 births in North America, a specialist is called in to decide which box the baby goes into, often via surgical alteration. And although most people have little difficulty identifying with one sex or the other, one in a hundred people has a body that differs from the standard minimum equipment list for their placarded gender. If people are equally represented in the blogosphere as in the delivery room, that's about ten pageviews a day on this blog. Hello ten people, who possibly don't all even know that your bits don't match the spec! You count too.


Devil in the Drain said...

You rock. Both parts of this post.

leisuresuitwally said...

At work today, I was discussing how operator's MMELs differed from the OEM's.
This made laugh out loud.

Louise said...

One of the bloggers I follow has just posted about their wedding in Cambodia. I thought you might be interested:

Ward said...

I don't think it would be practical to require everyone to go and get a DNA test to find out if they're XX, XY, XXY, XXYY, XXX, etc.

coreydotcom said...

@ Devil in the Drain

+ 1 !

DataPilot said...

Normal people just throw out an extra form like that. But me, I'm not normal people.

In that case, I must be normal. When the US census was done last year, I completed the form that was sent to my house and discarded the one addressed to my garage. Although, I did considering filling in the second form for the two tabby cats residing there.

Anonymous said...

It's a Census year in Germany, too.
Last one was in 1987 if I remember correctly.
I was one of the 10% to be questioned personally.
On the date announced by a letter 2 weeks before, a young guy rang the doorbell, I asked him to give me the forms as I had the intention to do it online.

No problem, just one thing raised my eyebrows: Once I selected "I' ve been a fulltime employee since date xy (some weeks ago), the following question was not selectable anymore. It was titled "Have you been receiving social welfare benefits since date xy".
Matter of fact is, that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are working their official 40h/week and still benefit from social welfare. Not because they are assholes, but because their income is far below the minimum they'd need to survive or even feed their families. But nobody wants to hear about the fate of the lower middle-class...