all signs pointed to a free day. the census didn't assign me any work last night, and i kept checking my census phone through the late evening and into the early evening. maybe all the cases were finally closed this weekend and there was no more work left in the area. it got as late as 9am and i still had no work, so i felt relieved. i stayed in bed a bit longer (because it was so cold in the house) and finally woke up to use the bathroom around 9:20am. that's when i saw it: 9 cases. they must've been manually assigned to me, something that the field manager has been doing for the past week or two. the weird part was it still said i had no work for today even though i was looking at cases.

that meant i had to switch gears from a free day to a work day. i listed the addresses and read each case notes, wrote down which proxies refused or were not available, copied any property manager contact info. my supervisor got in touch with me a bit later, asking me to sync my phone because she was told i'd been assigned some cases. i told her i was already looking at them. she said these cases were special, and copied a prepared chunk of text for me to read. special as in "must close" which so far has never been the case. whether a case gets closed or not often times is not really up to me. some cases simply can't be closed, whether can't find any eligible proxies (neighbors, property managers, owners) or restricted access.

so any thoughts of easily spending 2 hours to go through these cases was not going to happen. on the flip side, it gave me an excuse to milk as much of an 8 hour workday as possible in order to close all the cases. we were given permission to make educated guesses for addresses that were particular difficult to enumerate. if there were signs the place could've been vacant on april 1st, we were allowed to mark it as vacant, just put the reasons into the case notes. how many people lived in an apartment? find out the occupancy number from a neighboring unit (e.g. these apartments are 2 bedrooms) and copy the head count from those units. it was the bending of rules in order to close cases, and it made me a little leery because the census was allowing us to fudge the data.

i asked my supervisor how many other enumerators were given these "must close" cases and she said just 6 field workers including myself. i don't know whether to feel special because i was still given work when others might not have any or special because i was chosen to be a part of this elite task unit. she said these cases were automatically closed after a certain number of attempts, but the manager decided to try them one last time in hopes of closing them and getting a more accurate count.

i worked from 9:45am to 12pm, searching online for contact info and calling people. i managed to close 4 cases before lunch, a piece of cold leftover fried chicken and some expired fruit juice. i wasn't on planning on leaving until 1pm but left early at 12:30pm simply because i was already ready to go.

all these addresses were in the cambridgeport area. it would've been easy to get there by bicycle but i walked instead to milk the clock. i put all 9 addresses into google map to figure out the best route, which was definitely not the case list order.

it was cold, temperature in the 60's, and i wore a hooded jacket. by the time i walked to central square however i'd already warmed up enough that i ended up taking off the jacket.

at one point i saw a 5 gallon carboy sitting out on the curb. it looked brand new, but i couldn't carry it with me while i was working. i made a note of its location and decided to come back for it afterwards (if it was still there) with the bike.

i actually got a direct interview today, in an apartment building where the leasing manager already gave me info for the units. but he told me that the current tenants still lived there, and since i managed to get inside the building, i decided to go upstairs and knock on the door myself, in hopes of getting a more detailed interview. a chinese student answered and my eyes just lit up because i have a 100% close rate with chinese respondents. i told him i was with the census, he said if he could do it online. but the fact that this case has been opened more than a month with various enumerator visits mostly likely meant he wasn't going to do it. i broke into my mandarin, said it was just going to take a few minutes, and that i already knew 4 people lived there, 2 males, 2 females. i ended up doing a quick interview, just jotted down their names, gender, and ages. i wandered the building a little bit (it had a great view of central square) before going back down into the lobby to file the report.

2 cases i closed by sheer luck because i was waiting outside the house long enough for somebody to come out. one was a neighbor i used for a proxy, another was an in-mover that just happened to know how many people lived in his apartment before he moved in.

the farthest case was 1.6 miles away from my house, and the last one on my list. that was one where i managed to contact the owner this morning who gave me some info about his tenant. i was finished by 4:30pm. originally i wanted to go to the memorial drive trader joe's but i was tired and didn't really need anything. besides, i was thinking about that carboy, and had decided i would simply carry it home, even though it was still more than a mile away from my house.

so i headed back and found the carboy still on the curb. i made sure it wasn't smashed (looked brand new, even had some bubble wrap at the bottom so it wouldn't scratch or crack the base) and carried it back home. it weighed about 14 lbs. i must've looked awfully funny, carrying this large and heavy glass container around the streets of cambridge, ever once in a while shifting how i carried it once my arms grew tired.

i didn't get back home until an hour later. my arms had no energy from carrying the carboy all the way back. after washing my hands, i had some dinner, the rest of my cold fried chicken and a bowl of salad. eating a cold dinner did nothing to warm me up as i crawled underneath a fleece blanket on the couch and fell asleep around 6:30pm, waking up around 8:30pm to watch some monday night football on ABC.

i was still hungry in the evening that i made a bowl of taiwanese ramen with an egg and some pickled mustard greens. i was also going to drink some fruit juice but i went i looked in the carton i saw all the mold inside so poured it all out (to think i drank a cup this morning without getting sick!). instead i had some sour plum drink then later mixed myself a mug of hot hawthorn tea.