Yesterday I took the test to be a 2010 Census worker. Not an 'enumerator,' one of those that knock on your door. I'm not willing to work evenings in areas I just wouldn't feel safe walking through. So I applied to be an office worker. The pay is pretty good, $11.50 an hour, part-time hours and a job that lasts only until December.
Well, let me tell you, talking the test was not easy! As a matter of fact, it was damn hard. The questions were confusing as they were asked, the math you had to do without the help of a calculator (math has never been my strong suit) and they only allowed you 30 minutes to complete the 40-question test. An additional 15 minutes would have been perfect.
But what I found most interesting were the people taking the test. Only one young lady was in her early 20's, the rest were up into their 70's, with the majority being men in their late 40's to mid 50's.
As we had some time before the test began, the men starting talking - and I started listening. Every single one of them had lost their 'real' jobs. All had been in the corporate world - some for 20 years. What was so disheartening was when they started talking about the job opportunities here in Wilmington. None. They compared notes on how they had applied everywhere, and been turned down, for being over-qualified. They all had been turned down for jobs at Chic-fil A, McDonald's, Dillard's department store, CVS drug stores, and on and on and on. They talked quietly about how demeaned they felt and how basically useless their years of education, experience and knowledge were to them in today's economic market.
Being in New Hanover County, we were told that a high score was needed to even be considered for a census. Several people yesterday were re-taking the test to try and improve their scores from a previous testing. I thought I had done fairly well by scoring a 90% but have no idea if I will get a call. That's the next step - you wait now for 3-4 weeks waiting for 'the call' to say you've been approved for the next step in the process, paid training!
I'm not going to worry about it, but I bet those men will. They need something to hang their hopes on and it's so sad that right now a job with the Census is the only hope they have. What has happened to our country? How have we managed to get at this point? I certainly don't have answers.
I did think it was interesting watching Sunday Morning today, learning of the woman who in the 1950's unknowingly donated her cancer cells while being treated at John Hopkins, which became the breakthrough cells used in all disease research throughout the world, even today, at great profit (HeLa cells) and her son's and their families cannot afford basic health insurance. How can the richest country in the world be at this point in time? I just don't know, but I do think taking this test and just hearing how it would effect this small group of people's lives is an eye-opener.
Until next time....take care of each other.