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by Brick Walters, 3/17/00

Dc: This is DCR, news meant for amusement. Census forms arrived at homes all across the nation this week, and people are facing the important decision of whether and when to report, and how much to say. It's required by law that you complete the census, but whether you obey or not, the census bureau is determined to find you. Who are the people who find the people who won't complete their forms? Brick Walters reports.

(sfx: wind)

Brick: Nighttime falls over the city. On a windswept outcropping of rock high above this industrial town, a lone figure surveys the twinkling lights, arrayed like a string of glowing pearls scattered across a grimy carpet.

Cindy: It's in their hands now. We have come to the time of waiting.

Brick: Cindy Fleming is a census enumerator.

Cindy: We will see who responds … and then … my work begins.

Brick: Her dark eyes flash in the silky twilight. A sharpened pencil is tucked behind one ear. She has the bearing of a crusader who knows her job, and intends to do it. She is only waiting for a signal.

(sfx: wind crossfades with crowd hubub)

In a dingy basement den that is more like a rodent's lair than a human abode, a group of hooded individuals scamper nervously about.
They appear to be shy of the light.
This is a meeting of an extreme privacy group "Person's Anonymous." The members wear numbered tags, that's all. No names. Their leader is known to them only as "mother."

Anon 4: (fade up) … when I get the form, mother, do I have to put my actual NAME on it where it says "name" or can I put any name there?

Mother: The census bureau says you that you have to enter your own legal name, yes. But of course we will resist.

(sfx: small agitated crowd up and down)

Anon 2: Let's all use the same name! A famous name!

Anon 1: Leonardo DiCaprio! Yes! Let's all be Leo!

(sfx: small agitated crowd up and hold)

Mother: Fools! Imbeciles!

(sfx: crowd out)

Do you want to DRAW attention to yourselves?

Anon 4: Of course not, mother.

Anon 1:. We want to disappear.

Mother: And won't the census authorities be intrigued by a group of 20 Leo DiCaprios living in the same nowhere city? The teenage girls alone would give us away.

(sfx: small, humbled crowd, up and down)

Instead, you'll fill out your forms with the bland, meaningless, nobody names on this list.

Anon's: (hushed reading) Joe Smith. Phil Fuller. Mary Miller. Tom Mason. Susan Parker. Al Jones. Bill Larsen. Terry Williams. Etc.

(sfx: rustling paper)

Mother: And if anyone tracks you down you can truthfully say you wrote down the name … (sweetly) your mother gave you! Heh hah hah hah hah!

(sfx: small agitated crowd up and cross fade)
(sfx: wind)

Brick: Meanwhile, from her rocky overlook, Cindy senses that a crime is being committed.

Cindy: Someone is planning to cheat on the census. I am needed.

(sfx: car door slam and car peels out)

Brick: Minutes later, Cindy Fleming arrives at a low brick warehouse by the waterfront. She examines the scene carefully, using a spotlight to cut through the murky shroud of night.

(sfx: car approach, shut off, car door opens and closes)

This census enumerator works alone.

(music: tense)
(sfx: footsteps on gravel, carefully)

A door has been left ajar.

(sfx: slow squeaking metal door open)
(sfx: scurrying creature)
(music: STING!)

A rat scurries down the hallway.

Cindy: (big sigh) Close one. Better have this ready.

Brick: She pulls out her pencil and holds it up, point first, as she inches toward the unknown. Cindy Fleming is well aware of the hazards of door to door enumeration. She comes from a long line of census takers. Her father endured the complete, detailed telling of hundreds of life stories. His mother was once offered a set of steak knives to skip a family, and a single steak knife … in the gut … if she decided to count them anyway.
Carefully, silently, she comes to a halt and adjusts her balance, preparing to kick in a rickety door leaking light all around the edge.

(sfx: kick/crash)
(music: STING!)

The room is full of unsurveyed Americans!

(sfx: panicked crowd)

Anon 1: We're busted!

Cindy: (shouting) Census taker! Freeze!

Brick: Ignoring her, they scatter like cockroaches!
Cindy's pencil jots quickly … the point is a blur as shrouded figures dive for cover.

Anon 1: Leave us alone!

Anon 3: There's nobody here!

Cindy: Listen up! I'm only gonna say this once!

(sfx: panicked crowd down)

I've already got the particulars. Caucasian Male, 33. Afro American Female, 48. Latino male, 25. Caucasian Female, 27. And so forth and so on. Now it's just a matter of filling in the names. You can make it easy, or you can make it hard. You. How 'bout it?

Anon 2: Um … my name? It's … um … Phil Fuller. It's the name my mother gave me.

Cindy: Sure. But you goofed. You're not supposed to mention mother until I ask "Is that your real name?" Right, Mr. "Fuller?"

Anon 2: Oh, yes it is.

Cindy: Too late, I don't believe you.

Anon 2: But my mother ….

Cindy: Right. Where IS "mother," anyway?

Mother: Right here, Enumerator.

Cindy: Well, mother? May I "round up" these delinquent citizens?

Mother: You know I can't stop you. Though I would if I could.

Cindy: What kind of "mother" does that make you?

Mother: Sorry, Enumerator. Sorry I met up with you.

(music: march)

Brick: And so … another cell of census resistors … busted. Cindy Fleming made sure each of them filled out the LONG form. She promised them to their faces that they would be counted, numbered, registered, logged, filed, recorded and tallied.

Cindy: You're each going to get a congressman. If you did not vote for a congressmen, one will be elected to serve you.

Anon 3: (passing by) Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Cindy: (calling out) There'll be federal funding too! Don't pass it up! When it gets here … USE IT. Or in the next census … you might LOSE IT.

Brick: Another successful run for an extraordinary enumerator. America's last line of defense against incomplete data.
Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.


Cindy: How do you spell that?

Brick: B - R - I - C - K … W - A …

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