This week, Josh and I were the lucky recipients of a Census survey. It came in a big envelope, which was marked in ten places with "Participation in this Survey is Required by Law."
Now, I should mention here that Josh and I are not good at getting things done. In fact, Josh has an entire library of what he calls "productivity porn," which is a genre of books dedicated to whipping people like us into organizational shape. He probably reads one of these books every three or four months, and they always send him into a flurry of cleaning and labeling. However, these systems never stick, and the best way to make sure that we get something done is to tie us to a chair and force us. (Which is, of course, what she said.)
So there we were, in the mailroom of our complex, bent over this survey in which we were legally obligated to participate, our other mail (jury summonses for two different former residents of our apartment, unlikely but true) forgotten in the box, our dog waiting patiently at the end of her red leash.
"I guess we're going to be participating in the census," I said. I'm always excited by things like this. I like to be chosen for things that not everyone gets chosen for, even if those things are silly and random and not even fun to do, like jury duty or the assessment group at school or this census business. It makes me feel like my life matters a little bit more than other people's, like I'm exceptionally interesting and worthy of study. Being chosen to participate in the census brings out my inner diva.
Josh replied: "Or we'll be arrested." Josh does not share my positive outlook on life. For him, things like this represent an intrusion by the federal government into our lives for no good reason. Or, on an even more pessimistic day, Josh sees things like this as one more way the police are authorized to abuse their power and make our lives Hell. Josh is a bit of a drama queen.
"We won't get arrested," I say, "because we're gonna do it." To this statement, I am sure Josh rolled his eyes.
We walked back to our apartment, each of us in a cloud of our own thoughts.