Loose Ends: Power of one more

The power of one can’t be overestimated, unless it is the estimate of the demographic of an area. Some folks were very upset by the statistical information gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau the last time (a decade ago). They objected to that information being used by the state highway department, as they felt their rural crossroads had been slandered by the final count of people who actually inhabited their berg. The shiny highway sign alerted travelers to the upcoming community as they passed through the area. The name of one such community has been changed to protect the innocent, but apparently the entire population of two was slandered by the erroneous number of community residents listed on the sign — Folderol, Colorado, Population 1.
“How dare they post such hogwash?” asked the one official community member in the so-named community. It is interesting that the single digit should inspire such wrath and indignation. Most small-town residents don’t have such deep feelings about the number of folks counted in the community. It makes one think about such things.
The U.S. Census Bureau has disseminated quite a lot of historical information during this nationwide survey period. One of the reasons given for collecting this personal information is that the “government” money available for communities is based on this statistical compilation. That said, one is more able to understand why more than a few feathers are ruffled when the number of residents is misrepresented. Not only might the most rural among us lose out in gaining grants to keep their community viable, passersby might surely keep on driving upon reading a highway sign listing a population of one. I never read of any communities rising up in protest against the interstate highway signs that say Limited Services Ahead, but maybe the various state highway departments keep current. There seem to be all sorts of general store-type businesses located in the most out of the way places, with snacks, restrooms and gas available.
A loud knock on the door the other day took me by surprise. I was sure it was a friend trying to get my attention above the noise of the vacuum cleaner, but discovered a harried census worker with little time for idle conversation. After identifying herself as a U.S. Census bureau worker, she handed me a big white envelope.
“Here is your census survey. Please fill it out and send it back in, postage has been provided.” I noticed a printed warning on the front of the envelope stating that filling out the form was required by law. I’m not sure how often this law is enforced, but the warning is especially useful when issued to those of us who remain in possession of numerous mattress tags that cannot be cut off. I’m not losing any sleep over it — our survey was filled out within the hour and sent back immediately.