April 1, 2010

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Don’t give census answers to anyone wearing a toga!

Hi, I’m John Q. Publique (aka Jim Harris), director of the 2010 census, or as we like to call it, “An April Fool’s Snapshot of America.”

You have probably already received our postcard indicating that you will soon be receiving the census form, as well as the mailing containing the census form itself, and the subsequent correspondence stating that you really need to fill out the damn thing right now. (Don’t worry, we don’t have to pay postage.) And now, I’m here to help you complete your questionnaire.

But first, some fun census facts: The earliest known census, scrawled on a cave wall in what is now Lascaux, France, recorded 12 Neanderthals, three Homo sapiens and two amphibious bipeds. A subsequent census on a nearby wall depicted no amphibians, 12 dead Neanderthals and 4,107 Homo sapiens.

In ancient Rome, census takers roamed the countryside, counting each person and then lopping off one of their fingers so as not to count them again.

The census began in the U.S. in 1790, counting 3.9 million “free white males and females.” Among the questions they were asked was “Do you have health insurance through an HMO?”

In 1870, the responses from 38 million Americans were tabulated by a rudimentary tallying machine that used  porcupine quills to count people.(Census taker was considered the country’s most dangerous job because the porcupines did not give up their quills without a fight.)

In 2010, all of the responses from our 309 million citizens will be uploaded to an ultra-high performance mega-computer, where the information will immediately be hacked into by Russian mobsters and sold on the black market.

OK, now let’s begin. As you know, the government is sitting on a huge pile of money that we are required by law to give away, and we need you, the people, to line up in order — neediest first — to get your fair share. Please, no pushing or butting in to the front of the line.

In order to properly obtain our “snapshot of America,” we need you to remain in place for 24 hours on April 1. Do not eat or drink after 6 p.m. the night before, and inform any guests you have that they will not be allowed to leave the house until April 2.

The process is easy. On the “day of,” just jot down the name, age, race and gender (if known) of every human being in your residence. Do not record people who are dead, hiding, imaginary or invisible. Do not record pets, even if they wear clothes or have human names.

Be sure not to skip question 8: “Are you not of Hispanic origin?” Take note that “yes” means “no” and “no” means “yes.” Also answer yes or no to question 8a: “Do you have no bananas?”

As to question 9: “What is your race?” you will see that you  may check more than one box for that answer. Please note that, because of a compromise deal struck with Republican lawmakers, 42 new categories of “white” have been added to counterbalance the growing number of non-white classifications. These include, “white-friendly,” “not quite white” and “white in a previous lifetime.” If you need to use additional paper to elucidate the extent of your whiteness, please do so.

It has come to our attention that rumors are circulating to the effect that filling out the census form could result in an IRS or Immigration agent showing up at your door. Perhaps this has been mistakenly inferred from questions 45: “Have you ever cheated on your taxes,” 45a: “Can you give a specific example” and 46: “When did you sneak in from Mexico?”

Let me state unequivocally that, like all government agencies, we do not share any information with any other government agency. We also keep all of your filled-out questionnaires locked up in the same secure underground bunker in Nebraska where high-ranking government officials hide in times of crisis.

You may notice a few new optional checkboxes at the bottom of the form — one to donate your organs to endangered hyenas and another to provide government money to buy Viagra for nursing home residents.

If you need any help filling out the form, please call the Questionnaire Assistance Center. They are open around the clock and are fully staffed by former contestants on American Idol and former Congressmen now out on probation, all of whom are well trained to answer your questions.

A word of warning: If someone comes to your door purporting to be a census worker, check their I.D. Do not give information to anyone wearing a toga or carrying an axe.

And finally, remember that you are required by law to participate in the census, but don’t worry; we have no power to prosecute you if you don’t. Anyway, how would we even know who you were? Duh!

Armed with a complete and accurate picture of the populace, we can provide America with funnier sitcoms, tastier Happy Meals and more relevant, less goofy government in the Tea Party days and years ahead. Thank you, and God bless the U.S. of A. (And by the way, April Fool!)


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