i ended up going just to prove to myself it could be done, that i could run down to chinatown and back in the morning and still have time to do my census work in the afternoon and early evening.
it took me just 22 minutes to arrive at ming's market. the workers there hassled me because i was using my own shopping bags, which i've always done. they said i had to leave them on the, not sure if it's because of coronavirus prevention or shoplifting deterrent. i told them i didn't feel safe using their shopping carts (lie) so somebody went and got my some gloves, which i ended up not wearing. i got some sea salt sunflower seeds, some candied tamarinds, and some knotted dried seafood and shacha sauce for my mother. i also picked up some lychees on sale, just $1.48/lbs. they didn't look too bad. finally, i bought 2 boxes of facemasks. the price has gone up, $6.99 instead of $5.99 for a box of 50 masks, but still much cheaper than elsewhere. i figured i could wear a fresh mask everyday that i work the census, since a mask can get awfully dirty with all the sweating i do while i walking my census beat.
shopping took me 20 minutes. afterwards i followed an access road along I-93 to south bay plaza. it was fairly straight forward but because i've never been there, i was nervous i might get lost. the home depot website said there were 4 bottles left of concentrated neem oil, but the shelf was empty when i got there. they might've had it in stock in the upper storage shelves, but asking someone for help would take more time, and i still had to get back home. besides, the place was packed, the employees seemed busy enough as it is. so i left empty-handed.
i returned home via a very straight-forward route but one that probably took the longest time: following mass ave back into cambridge. to do that i first had to get past the gauntlet of homeless drug users around the boston medical center area. it's one thing to be in the safety of a car you can roll up the windows and lock the doors; it's something else to be exposed on a motorcycle, people drugged out of their minds shuffling in the streets like zombies.
the trip home via mass avenue took 34 minutes, i didn't get back until 11:25am. after a quick shower, i started making lunch. i was going to just have some yogurt with granola but when i opened my container of yogurt it was all moldy inside. i had a container of potato salad, but since i'd be having pasta salad tonight, i felt like that was simply too much salad in a single day. instead, i just had an instant cup of korean kimchi noodles along with a smoothie.
according to schedule, i left by 12:30pm to begin my census assignments for the day. since they told me to start at 1:30pm, they only gave me 59 cases. they were all around the harvard university area, so relatively close, and it seems like it was sending me out in circles visiting mainly 4 streets.
today was hot - 90+ degrees again - but dry, so it was manageable. i think my body is also slowly adjusting to the routine and the weather conditions. i didn't even bother wearing sunblock, felt i have enough of a base tan for protection. i took the bike again; though the addresses were close, i needed the bike to get home for my 30 minute break, and i needed the bike again to return to my assigned area.
i managed to get into 2 apartment buildings just by hanging around outside and sneaking in when somebody came out. i redid a bunch of those cases since earlier i couldn't get in to leave a "notice of visit" form. i'm also learning to look for contact numbers and made a lot of phone calls today to get remote proxies. they were all unsuccessful with the exception of one case where a tenant gave me the landlord's number and i managed to clear 2 cases with the info he gave me. i continue to amaze people with my party trick of identifying plants they might have growing in their garden or on their porch. i impressed a helpful (and rather pretty) middle eastern girl when i asked about her jasmine plant which looked a little lacking for sun.
i had another great interaction, this time with a hispanic live-in housekeeper. the owners were out of the country until october, but they were all here in april (along with her school age daughter) and she had most of their info. i was asking her the basic census questions - name, birthdates, gender, relationship to one another - until we got to the ethnicity questions. when she told me she was peruvian, i had to ask her about chifa. i saw her eyes light up and we ended up chatting about chifa for a few minutes, temporarily forgetting about the census questionnaire. she told me that peruvians consider chifa one of peru's native cuisine, despite its obvious chinese influences. i asked if she knew any good chifa restaurants around here, she said no, but if i wanted to have good chifa, i have to go to passaic, new jersey. she didn't believe it herself until a friend brought her there. there were some chifa restaurants where people lined up for 20 minutes just to get in. i asked her what dish would she recommend. "arroz chaufa" she told me, which i know from my spanish and chinese that it's fried rice. she told me to get a special combination (i forgot the name) where it's every single meat you can imagine - chicken, pork, beef - along with a host of different seafoods. i told her i was getting so hungry and we finally finished up the survey.
final two hours of work had the census assigning me all addresses on the harvard campus, none of which were residential. they were either museums, or classrooms, or laboratories. when i entered the info into the app, it asked me to find 3 proxies for each case. that hour of the day, there was simply nobody around. none of the buildings were opened due to coronavirus. i had to look up numbers online i could call, a even though, 1-2 numbers at most, not 3. it got to the point where i didn't dare tackle any of those cases because they were such headaches. i ended up visiting each address and putting in the notes what harvard building it was. i ended the workday on a low and returned home by 8pm.
of my 59 cases, i still had 19 active, although a lot of those remaining were harvard buildings that weren't residential anyway, so that number is misleading. of those that i completed, 27 were still inactive.
after a shower, i filled a bowl with pasta salad and crashed on the couch with my dinner while watching shooter (2007) on tv. i ate half a bag of lychees, they were okay, not the sweetest, but they weren't rotten like i sometimes get.
i didn't mention it, but the census finally cut me my first check, it went into my bank account late last night. not too much because that first week was just training and i wasn't able to do a lot because a clerical error assigned me in the wrong zone. i did the math, they didn't seem to take off too much for taxes. or maybe i forgot how much i'm supposed to make per hour. but pretty soon i'm going to be thinking of things i'm going to buy with this newfound cashflow. i'm typically very thrifty, but i can also splurge with the best of them. still, i mind just spend it on more practical things, like a new coffee table, or get my clogged hot water pipes fixed.
close to 1am the census assigned me my case load for tomorrow: only 46 cases, all within walking distance. they want me to start at 2:45pm this time. i wonder if i'm being punished for being a sloppy census enumerator, or they're just pushing for a later time in the hopes of increasing the chance of people being home (2-8pm is optimal enumerating hours during the weekdays).