Monday, May 4, 2009


When I hear that our government is thinking about nationalizing health care, I get scared. Super scared. Super hide-under-the-bed-with-a-blanket-over-my-head scared.

See, I worked for the government one summer...and I don't want those people anywhere near my tonsils, pancreas or bowels.

Before I suffered the ultimate indignity of dressing up as a Ninja Turtle for children's parties, I worked a summer for the 1990 US Census. 

Shortly after we were married, my wife and I found that money was an important thing to have. You can buy food with it. 

We heard that the US Census was hiring. 

We both went and took a test to see if we were smart enough to work at the Census. As I recall, the test consisted of seeing if we knew how to breath.

A few weeks later we received a letter in the mail. We had scored well at breathing. We were now official government workers.

My wife would work the day shift, and I would work the afternoon shift...allowing me to go on auditions and not get them.

My first day on the job I was introduced to other people who could breath. Barely. 

We sat at official US government cardboard desks. I do not jest. They were cardboard desks. 

Our job was to open US Census survey envelopes and input the data into a computer. The data would be used to make sure the government would function over the next 10 years. One look at my co-workers and I knew the government was in for a bumpy 10 years.

Back then the economy seemed to be in pretty good shape. So not a lot of people needed jobs with the US Census. This means that the people who DID need jobs with the US Census were particularly interesting. And slightly scary.

I overheard the following conversation on my first day on the job. A man (for that is what I think he was) was telling another man the benefits of working for the government. It went something like this:

"So, like, if you ever feel sick and you're at work you can just go into the bathroom. You could stay there all day and they'd still have to pay you. Know why? Because you're at work. But you're sick. You're you're officially at work...but you're you're not working. Like if you have diarrhea. What are they going to do? Say, no you can't have diarrhea? Get back to your desk? No. Cuz then you'll mess yourself at your desk and subject other people to your spores. And they don't want that. So, you have to stay in the bathroom. But you want to work. It's just your bottom is not cooperating with your desire to work. So they have to pay you. And what are they going to do? Check on you in the bathroom? No. They have to believe you cuz they can't demand to see your diarrhea. That's against the law and an invasion of personal privacy. No one can insist on looking at your diarrhea. That's a known fact. And if they did. You could sue them. So diarrhea is a good thing to have if you come to work but don't want to work. But you'd have to spend most of your time in the bathroom, that's the only downside."

Not everyone was as unusual as this man. Some of my co-workers were just there to supplement their income. Others were there as some requirement of their parole board.

One retired woman was there because she thought it would be fun.  I remember she would sit in front of her computer and say. "Oh fiddlesticks! Behave Mr. Computer!" In the three months of working next to her, I don't think she ever input one thing. She got close. It was at the end of the three months that I discovered she hadn't learned how to turn her computer on.

Another co-worker was in his early 20s. He loved the Fox sketch comedy show, 'In Living Color.' He would spend every moment saying, "Two Snaps Up," and then shouting, "Werrrrrrrrrrrrr!" I don't what that meant. But he did it all the time. After two months I thought about bringing a weapon.

Diarrhea man took care of it by trying to flush the young man down the toilet.

It was a magical time in my life.

I hear they are hiring again.

I can still breath. Maybe I should give it another shot.


  1. They have to believe you cuz they can't demand to see your diarrhea. That's against the law and an invasion of personal privacy.There is a mumbling man who frequents my local train station who would put forth that the government not only knows more than you do about your diarrhea, but is updating your files with every flush. Presumably under section "P."

    Ah, progress!

  2. Rob,

    I think that guy was my supervisor.

  3. I don't think government health care would be all that bad. I think it would be exactly like Kaiser. They make you wait a really long time (sometimes days, even) to see a doctor probably because they are all hiding in the john faking diarrhea.

    Also, at Kaiser, they have a system, which is if you are sick in any way, they put a cast on you. I once went into Kaiser with a cough, and came out with a cast on my arm. The doctor said it would help, and it did because every time I coughed, the cast would dig into my ribs a little. So I tried really hard not to cough. I was pretty much cured until I went to my brother's, and he has one of those really puffy cats with the long hair and I breathed in a glob of its hair which made me cough so hard that the cast ended up breaking one of my ribs.

    Any-who, my point is that most HMO employees probably came from the census bureau anyway, so getting it free sounds pretty good.

    Marjorie Underhill
    Owner, Madge's Badges
    Deaf Smith, TX

  4. I don't trust the Government to run anything either, especially after living on an ARMY post.

    "Hey I was told I need this paperwork done or I can't, you know, live. Where should I go?"
    "They take care of that over in building 4."
    "Hello, I was told you could help me with this paper work."
    "Oh no, they do that over in building 7."
    "Hey, Do you guys do this paperwork?"
    "No, please return to start. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars."