Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sylvia Sings The Senseless Blues Of The Census

By Anne Sullivan

Sylvia snored and snorted on. As “What’s the matter?” Sylvia asked me for a change as I sat glowering at the TV.
“Did you hear that?” I yelled at poor Sylvia. “Matt Lauer and Maria Tellez both said that today is the last day to mail in your census form.”
“What form?” Sylvia lifted her head from her breakfast dish. “I didn’t get any form. Did you send yours in?”
“That’s just it. I didn’t get a form either,” I roared. “How am I supposed to send in a form I never received?”
“Take it easy, boss. You’ll get apoplexy, whatever that is. Didn’t the form come in the mail?”
“The forms don’t come in the mail up here anymore. Someone called a Census Worker is supposed to bring it to your house. You didn’t by any chance frighten anyone away lately, did you?”
“No, not me. I haven’t seen anybody walk or drive up here for months. Maybe that’s it. Nobody could get up here.”
“The road has been clear and dry all the way up to the house for a week during which time I’ve been filling in the ruts. And the road up to our gate has been driveable for all but the most chicken hearted most days for several weeks.”
“I don’t know, boss. You’ve never tried to hide. As far as I can see, you’ve been a good citizen. I know you pay your taxes. You’ve been howling about that for days. It’s not fair that you’ve been forgotten.”
“In the old days, a nice lady came up to the house and interviewed me,” I said. “However, I was overlooked at the last census, but someone was stationed at the firehouse to help people with the census and he gave me a form which I duly filled out. So here I am forgotten again. I guess I don’t count.”
“You count with me, boss.” Sylvia put a heavy paw on my knee. “Maybe they just can’t find you.”
“Millions of catalogs can find me every week and all sorts of requests for money find their way to Swingle Canyon every single day.”
“I’m sorry, boss. It’s not fair,” Sylvia said again. “Truth to tell, I was feeling pretty bummed out too. I’m quite prepared to fill out a form for myself and I could help Gordo, who hasn’t had my educational advantages, with his. I don’t think it’s fair that they don’t count us animal friends, but we don’t pay taxes so I suppose it’s an even trade. I do have an income but it only stretches far enough to pay for dog and cat food and treats. But you -- Miss Good Citizen -- not to count you, that’s a low blow. I think we should protest. Is there a census building close by that we could picket?”
“I don’t know where those census people hang out. If I did, I’d ask them for a form. In other words, I think picketing is not very productive.”
“What about letters of protest? We could send them to all the papers starting with The New York Times. Maybe they’d do an article, or better yet, an editorial about me. Oh, and you too, of course.”
“I have a better idea. Why don’t you write about this miscarriage of justice in your column, Sylvia?”
“Yes, that’s a good idea,” she said after suitable consideration. “I haven’t done this week’s column yet. I’ve got the perfect lead-in. How about this: Census people, listen up. Someone who wants desperately to be counted also lives with two animals – a very intelligent dog and a giddy gadabout cat. They’re all waiting to be counted. The address is Swingle Canyon, Datil, Catron County, New Mexico, USA, World, The Universe. Watch out for ruts in the road.”

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