Complete this survey. Or else.


This surveyA couple weeks ago, we received a postcard in the mail. How nice! Nobody sends postcards anymore. It was from the federal government and it informed us that we would soon be receiving a survey in the mail. Okay. So they sent us a thing in the mail to tell us they were sending a thing in the mail. Sweet.

We apparently are some of the privileged few who have been selected through a mysterious process to answer meaningful questions about ourselves.

A few days later, we received a giant envelope containing the American Consumer Survey and accompanying materials, including but not limited to a 16-page guide for the American Community Survey. This survey is important! According to the guide:

Your
Answers are Confidential and
Required by Law

(Line breaks and bold original.) Oh! Well then. I don’t want to be a law-breaker. (Honestly though, I kind of do. I mean, I was more excited, if you could call it excited, about filling out a survey out of the goodness of our hearts, not because it is Required by Law.)

A few days later, we received another postcard, informing us that a few days ago, we should have received the survey. And people think the U.S. Mail is dying!

The next day, we received a sternly worded, handwritten letter from Robert M. Groves, Director, United States Department of Commerce, Economic and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, telling us that if we were good citizens of the United States, we would’ve completed the survey by now or at least we’d come to visit once in a while.

That night, we were visited by four gentlemen in suits. Understandably, they were not forthcoming with much information, but we gathered that they were associated in some way with the CIA or FBI. They disabled our elaborate alarm system using a technique that might be employed by the bespectacled sidekick from the show White Collar to make cash spew forth from an ATM. They handed us a pen and said they’d wait while we completed the survey, which, as you may know, is Confidential and Required by Law.

Acting as Person 1, Ben’s survey duties were the most extensive. He had to answer all kinds of questions about himself, including but not limited to education, language, race, nationality, housing, whether we have a sink with a faucet, and employment. As Person 1’s unmarried partner, Person 2, I got to just talk about myself, which was super fun for me. They even wanted to know at what time of the day I leave for work and how long my commute takes. I mean, wow. I bet you guys don’t even want to know that level of detail about my life. Right? I’d be happy to discuss my commute more if there’s a great demand for this type of information.

I also answered on behalf Person 3. The survey asked about his schooling (“private” (fancy!) “nursery or pre”). I felt bad because it also asked how well he speaks English. In all honesty, I checked the “not well” box. He’s 21 months old. What am I supposed to say? Truth be told, though, I think he’s gained approximately 50 words since last night, just to show me up.