I’m not sure whether you know this or not but a very long time ago I worked for the government. That’s right. I was a servant of the public and let me just say I have the utmost respect for those who still are. My job, somewhat ironically, was finding other people jobs. In good times it was a relatively simple job, in bad times it was a bit more complicated but either way, it was always a pretty busy job that took up most of my time during the day. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there wasn’t a little bit of slack. A few moments to gossip with my workmates about the latest scandals. You know. Some tongue wagging about who was going out with whom, and who knew, or perhaps more interesting, who didn’t know. And I’m certainly not going to deny that I may have played an extra game or two of Bejeweled on the computers set up in the lunch room for that very purpose (I told you it was a long time ago). But most of the time you could find me sitting behind my desk, welcoming each and every one of the people who were counting on me to help them out of what was often a rather unfortunate situation. So it was a busy little job. Which is why a recent news item baffled me just a bit.
Bear with me now as I just need to backtrack here. Last week, like most everyone in this great country of ours, I received my instructions for completing the census questionnaire. It wasn’t a big surprise. After all, there have been a multitude of commercials on the TV reminding me that this very thing was going to happen and it would be my responsibility, as a good citizen, to do my duty and answer all of the questions asked. Those advertisements even went as far as explaining the importance of doing so as apparently, the programs and services you and I might access in the future depend on the answers we provide. Since, at the moment, I’ve got nothing but time on my hands, I figured I could spend a few of my precious minutes helping those who run this country figure out how to do the right thing. Honestly, that was motivation enough for me so one afternoon, after working on my jigsaw, I sat down with a coffee, a computer, the instructions and my guy, to get to the task at hand. Because that’s all I really needed. It all seemed so straight forward. At least that’s what I thought.
You can imagine my surprise when, while watching the nightly news, I found out that someone, somewhere in those hallowed halls of Statistics Canada, decided there was a little something else we all needed to rev up our engines. It seems that we needed playlists. And not just a few. Many playlists. Each with many, many songs. Music to accompany the completion of the 2021 Statistics Canada Census. Now I don’t know about you but as much as I wanted to have a chuckle about this, I found myself overwhelmed by the number of questions that began swirling in my head. Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem becoming apprised of the many wonderful Canadian musical artists whose talents add so much to our lives. And if being part of a playlist means a few extra shekels for those hard working artists, in what we all know has been a really difficult time, you can count me in (swidt?). But I was still left wondering what in the world Statscan (that’s what we call them around here) wanted me to do with this treasure trove of Canadian music. Was I supposed to get up and dance once I figured out how many people other than myself lived in my house? Break out in song because I was actually able to remember where my ancestors lived before they landed in this great country of ours? Recount the days of my youth as I listened to Trooper belt out “Raise A Little Hell”? Or perhaps wallow in a little self-pity as Ms. Murray crooned “Snowbird” reminding me of what I wasn’t this past winter. What exactly was this all about? And when did Statscan become the cognoscente for the Canadian music scene throughout the ages.
My interest peaked, I decided to delve just a little further into what exactly was going on and it was a fine thing to discover that our government wanted us to “experience the different facets of Canadian culture through the sounds of our celebrated musical talent”*. (Statistics Canada) Certainly a laudable endeavour, although since we do have a Ministry of Canadian Heritage I had to wonder if it was perhaps a bit misplaced. But digging a little deeper I also found that this rather extensive undertaking was also about time. That’s right. Time. You see, in Canada there are two types of census forms. The short one, that we all keep our fingers crossed we receive, and the dreaded long one that we don’t. Since we only get one and not the other it can sometimes be hard to discern which one we received. And, as a result, how long it will take to complete. Statscan has now come up with a way to help us out. We are told the short one will take only a few minutes. And the long one? Apparently about seven or eight songs from one of the playlists. Which only opened a whole other can of worms for me. Like which seven or eight songs? And wouldn’t they have saved a whole whack of time and energy by just telling me how long it would take in, oh I don’t know, minutes maybe?
As a shallow person I’m not prone to judge others but I do have to wonder whether there’s someone walking the halls of Statscan with not quite enough to do. I know there are no more Bejeweled computers in the lunch room and maybe no one really cares much anymore about who’s doing what with whom, but surely there’s something more important to be done than putting together playlists for those of us who are dedicating, at most, a half hour of our day to complete a survey. I mean, it’s just a survey, people! Point us in the right direction and we’ll get it done. And if you really can’t find anything else to do, maybe give me a call. I know it’s been awhile but I might have a few tips I can share with you on how to find another job.
*Statistics Canada. “2021Census Soundtrack.” 2021Census Soundtrack, 2021, https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/ref/soundtrack-bandesonore/index-eng.htm. Accessed 12 May 2021.