This morning I was reading Paul Gubany’s book, A Return to Abundance, which deals with what he calls the “cultural money complex.” Gubany’s book details the history of money in Western civilization and describes the symptoms of our messed up relationship with money. One key point he makes is that our culture does not recognize any point at which we have “enough” money. Our paradigm is to be ever acquisitive, cradle to grave.
As I was reading this book, my doorbell rang. It was a census worker, as apparently our household was selected for a slightly more involved interview. We’d received a letter in the mail about this, so her visit was expected. This very nice woman sat in my living room with her laptop and asked me some questions about who was living here, ages, occupations, etc. She asked me how many hours a week I work. I said 32. She asked me for the primary reason I was not working a full 40 hours a week. She gave me some possible answers from the multiple choice item on the form in front of her: Was I in school part time? Responsible for taking care of children or other family members? Perhaps I was disabled?
The truth of the matter, readers, is that I do have other pursuits that occupy my time. I volunteer, and I’m working towards a career transition. Perhaps because I had just been reading Gubany’s book, I left out those details and simply said, “I’m not working full time because I make enough money working the hours I work now.” The census worker considered this for a moment and looked at her form. She was stumped. There were no multiple choice options that were going to fit that answer. As I said, she was a very nice woman. She finally said, “I’m just going to put down that you are doing what you want to do.”
There ended the interview. I thought about the geneaological research my father has done over the last several years, and the role census records played in that research. I remembered sitting at the computer with him looking through old census records online to find out more about ancestors. I really liked the idea of descendants of my family looking through old records and seeing something like this “Employed part time. Has enough and is doing what she wants to do.”