I’ve been doing the Calgary city census for a number of years now. And every year it is a bit different and also a bit the same.
I think I could safely say that I am a sociable person. I don’t mind chatting. I don’t mind making small talk. I ask questions. And I try to help where I can.
What I’ve found again and again as a census taker is that people are lonely. Each night I am out it seems like at least one home ends up monopolizing my time and I spend a good half hour chatting with someone.
People are lonely. People are isolated in their busy lives. And people just want someone to take a few minutes to listen to them and care about what is important to them.
I can do that. I don’t mind. I’m not really on the clock. I get paid by the house, but this job is just extra money…usually for a summer vacation.
This year every night without fail I have had at least one person chat for a good while with me.
I’ve learned about a lady whose husband died of cancer 2 years ago and whose 5 year old is struggling with it now and how her 8 year just endures it all.
Tonight I heard the story of a English gentleman whose wife is in the hospital with Alzheimer’s and who is waiting to get into long term care. Tomorrow they meet with a lawyer and do trustee paperwork. He showed me pictures of him young and told me about his life in London.
Another lady told me about her 3 dogs and her 2 puppies and her old dog with hip problems and that’s dying.
A lady told me about her dog running away from the dog walker and the fines the city gave her.
And there was the new Spanish family to Canada that has been here only a month.
People want desperately to be known and connect to another person. And with all of our digital social connections I think the problem is amplified. Virtual connections cannot completely replace physical connections. Don’t get me wrong, they are great things. But Facebook can’t replace a one on one face to face conversation. Something deep inside us all desires human connection.
So, my census collecting takes way too long and doesn’t pay too great. But I have some pretty interesting stories and I think I’ve left a number of people happier and in better spirits than when I first rang their doorbell.
It is interesting because I’ve now had quite a number of people who have remembered me from past years and who have said that they were glad to see me again.
So, if I can brighten one persons day then doing the census was well worth it!