Where Amazing Happens: The People You Meet During Census Canvassing

Posted on April 20, 2009 by


When I was a kid, I had this vague dream/desire to sit with and talk with everyone in the world.  I wouldn’t be a celebrity or anything, I’d just have a knowing, understanding, and one-to-one connection with everyone in the world.

* * * * *

I keep saying to whoever I meet that working for the census is the about the closest I get to applying my anthropology degree, with not-so-bad pay.

While a lot of people will tell me I’m trespassing and being annoying, a few people now and then will actually take the time to engage in conversation with me, and that’s usually where amazing happens.

Who’ve I met so far?

  • A Filipino Pastor who told me that anthropology made everyone too secular and ruined religion.  I was trying to convince him that anthropology probably actually increases spirituality as it has increased my own.
  • A former military recruiter interested in teaching US History
  • A white woman who seemed to be couch ridden and talked to me about how nice it would be if someone moved in with her.
  • A nice Armenian woman who offered me a drink after her non-English speaking mother kept telling me to get lost
  • Los homies kicking it, offering me cervezas, after I attempted to say stuff in Spanish
  • A marines recruiter who spotted me on the street.  Ain’ t no thing, just another man getting his hustle on.
  • Elementary school kids at a complex who sold me some good ole World’s Finest Chocolate Crisp and talked to me about their aspirations.  Two of the girls were fighting to be the first female president.  I said that them being from the same place, I’d hope to see them work together…tee-hee.
  • A white dude sitting on his porch with a beer talking to me about the history of telecommunications and telecommunications companies
  • A 75-year old Mexican man who came to America under the Bracero program, worked in Salinas, Santa Rosa, Artesia, worked as a welder, lost his job in the 80s because of outsourcing, found another job as a welder till he retired in 2000.  It felt like I was walking through labor social history through him.
  • An older black dude walking the neighborhood telling me about his walking route on his mission to lower his blood cholesterol level
  • A young Filipino dude who used to bang and now has a wife and kids and is getting his hustle on

It’s fun meeting the different neighborhoods, the different living conditions, the different people.  I see the suburban homes, the apartments, the mobile homes, the townhouses, the condos, the back houses, the extra big vacant lots being used for nothing in particular.   I love the communities with ice cream trucks and pushcart vendors and no gates.  I hate dogs, cat crap townhouses, gates, NRA, Beware of Owner, and no soliciting/trespassing signs.  I see school kids, mothers, fathers, brothers, uncles, aunts, policemen, people who are visiting, people who are too busy, people lounging,  people who just are.

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