1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Yes, however hard it is to believe, there have been times in history when a census would turn out to be an epoch-making event. This wasnâ€™t one of them.
I was expecting so much more, having had my pants scared off (literally; one of the joys of completing a census in the privacy of your own home is that you can still do it while pantsless) by claims spread on Facebook â€“ of all places â€“ that hackers will crack the Australian Bureau of Statistics wide open and sell my private information to spammers, so that armed with the full knowledge of my PhD in Law, Trump University will be able to offer me its brand new huuuuge post-doctoral qualification for only $9,990 (plus a complimentary Make America Great Again cap). I was also expecting a religious war to break out as a result of the Census. Alas!
Lastly, I was expecting, as the ABS kindly informed me, that completing the Census would take about 30 minutes, as it takes per average household. When I found out the hard way that the Census does not allow you to list and talk about your pets, the task has shrunk to about 5 minutes. No Messiah born in my garage either to explain to the Australian government.
However breezy, Iâ€™ve found the experience of answering the ABSâ€™s questions confronting at times, and their suggested answers very limited and limiting. For example:
Male or female? How dreadfully binary is that, not to mention narrow-minded and bigoted. Doesnâ€™t the ABS know there are at least 33 different genders?
Marital status? I was forced to tick â€œDivorcedâ€ not being offered the option of â€œItâ€™s complicatedâ€.
Speak English at home? I speak Polish to my cat and English to myself. The voices in my head are multilingual. Again, not enough space to explain.
How well do you speak English? Not very well, particularly when drunk and/or on dates.
Questions 19, 20 and 21 were particularly touchy:
While I generally self care myself, I found the question about someone to help with body movement activities to be quite intrusive. Iâ€™m divorced and itâ€™s none of your business. Stop judging me.
On the other hand, the question â€œDoes Artur need some help with getting out of bed?â€ lacked the answer â€œGod yes, particularly in winter, and particularly when not workingâ€, and â€œDoes Artur need help being understood?â€ could have benefitted with the option â€œThatâ€™s what the blog is forâ€. And as for the final questions about my income or whether I have been actively looking for work, what are you, ABS? My father?
But when all was said and done and Iâ€™ve come out at the other end of the torturous and soul-destroying five minutes of my Tuesday afternoon I was comforted by thought how long it would have taken Mary and Joseph to fill the census form for Jesus, a dozen sheep, goats and cows, the Angel of the Lord, six shepherds and the three Wise Men. Particularly since with the Imperial Broadband Network rollout behind schedule, the internet connection in Palestine was slow and subject to drop-outs.