The Case of the Missing Census Letter
I heard on teh Interwebz that the Census Bureau had sent out letters telling citizens that the Census Bureau would be sending them Census forms. I got no letter. Do I really need to explain how this made me feel? The hurt, the embarrassment, the humiliation of not getting a letter? It was awful.
How am I supposed to know when my Census form is going to get here, if I don’t get a letter?
Everyone else got one. It isn’t right!
It isn’t fair.
So I called the Census Bureau Chicago office to ask when I’d get my letter telling me when my Census form was coming. Here is how that conversation went:
They referred me to the Springfield, IL office.
Bureaucracy! It’s a Byzantine nightmare of functionaries, mandarins, and stone-faced clerks refusing to help a poor citizen, each in turn claiming it’s not their job. No wonder there’s a deficit.
The anger was rising in me now. Others have calculated the cost to the government to mail out these letters, which I learned are called “Advance Letters”. Important as they are, alerting people that they will be receiving mail in the near future, that cost doesn’t matter to me. These are Constitutional matters. The future of the Republic hangs in the balance. Our town could lose parking meters.
But what about the cost to me? I don’t have a printing press or a Federal Reserve Magic Sliding Decimal Point Account. I’m having to spend my valuable time tracking down this stinking letter.
I called up the Springfield Office, and immediately got sent to Recruiting! I didn’t want a job, I wanted to know when my Advance Letter was coming, so I would know when my Census form would be coming.
Then the nice, overburdened lady explained, as if for the thousanth time, that this was just a letter saying the Census form was on its way. That it didn’t matter that I didn’t get one….
“IT DIDN’T MATTER”?
Her words stung me like a frozen whip, and not the dessert kind.
What am I, not as important as the people who did get a letter? Government arrogance, pure and simple. Well, arrogance and sloth.
I admit to losing my patience, and for that, I apologize. When I’m dealing with important, Constitutionally mandated activities, my line is pretty taut already. It doesn’t take much to set me off, I can tell you that.
In case readers want to know where their letters are, you may go to the Census.gov site and call your regional office yourself.
Oh, by the way: contrary to the “About one week from now” stated in the Advance Letters, the Census forms are coming out April 1. Figures.