Nowadays I know that when you get a letter from the United States Census, you fill it out and mail it back. It helps with all kinds of things that the government needs to know, like how many people live in a certain area, their ages, if they have children, that sort of thing. When I first moved to Phoenix, at age 19, I knew none of these things, and even a couple of years later I was still clueless. So in 1980 I got an official visit.
What I learned is that if you don't respond to the letter, then someone has to come and visit you. Yes, they still do that today. And in 1980 I answered a knock on my door that didn't have many visitors. Yep, it was the Census. And I was pleased to have someone to talk to, especially on my favorite subject - me.
The number of people in that particular household (my apartment) was one. And when I was asked for my birthday, I just said "today", proving it with a driver's license. Yes, it was my birthday, and I was alone, just hanging out in my apartment. The young woman, who was about my age, was just tickled about this, but to me it was just another day. I'm not big on birthday celebrations. But I did ask her to have dinner with me.
Now calm down, this isn't that sort of story! Yes, we had dinner, but we were never romantically involved. We were just two lonely young people. We went up to Stuart Anderson's at Metrocenter, which is still there (still serves a good steak, too!), and I wasn't alone on my birthday. I sometimes wonder why she accepted the invitation, but looking back, she had more information on me than most girls get on guys, and I seemed harmless, which I was (and still am).
Being counted by the United States Census, along with having my name in the phone book, made me feel very grown up. I wasn't really sure what being a grownup meant, and I'm still working on it, but I know that being counted, and having your name in print, is nice.
I'd like to think that the Federal Government gave Phoenix just a little bit more money because they counted me in 1980.
Image at the top of this post: At the Saguaro Apartments, adding to the population of Phoenix, Arizona by one.
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