My census training finished up last night, so now I'm now fully trained to do enumeration work. One of last night's exercises was to go out with another trainee for a couple of hours of field work. It was scary to interview the first person to complete the census form, but it was easier the second time, and I have no doubt that soon it will be routine.
I think the biggest challenge for this job is going to be finding people at home. There's a procedure we follow if no one answers the door; one of the tasks is leaving a "Sorry I missed you" sheet that gives our contact information, including a phone number. I was trying to decide if I should include my home or cell number (neither of which I was thrilled about leaving with strangers) when a classmate threw out another option, a pay-as-you-go phone. That way you'd have a dedicated number just for census calls, and there wouldn't be any safety or security issues.
This afternoon I went to my local big box electronics store and bought the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone I could find. When I was checking out, the clerk started on his spiel about how I could buy an extended warranty for the phone; I nicely cut him off and told him it wasn't necessary. How was he supposed to know this phone was just for temporary use?
When I opened the phone package, I felt vaguely secret agent-ish. In the movies, cell phones are used to transmit secret information, and the caller is unknown. However, my phone doesn't offer complete anonymity. As part of the online setup process, I had to provide my name, home phone number, and e-mail address. Since I'm not planning on using the phone for any nefarious purpose, that wasn't a problem. Within ten minutes of taking the phone out of the package I had a phone number to associate with my new phone.
The phone's now charged and tucked away in my Census bag, ready for action. I don't know how much I'll be using the phone, but it came with some minutes which expire two months from now. Coincidentally, that's just about the time my Enumerator authorization expires.