Getting hired in a pandemic

jobtableauI’m getting fingerprinted today!

And photographed!

And background-checked!

I’m getting a job with the US Census Bureau!

I got conditionally hired just as COVID was ramping up in late March, just before isolating become a widely used gerund and a widely enforced official order.
Even as I got that initial call, and was answering the questions about having transportation and  willingness to work odd hours,  I was thinking, ‘Why are they asking me these things? I can’t possibly knock on doors and talk to people when everyone is scared and everyone who talks to anyone anywhere seems to fall ill and/or die.’fingerprint1

The census was, of course, postponed. Like everything else.

But last week I got an email, telling me the census bureau was up and rockin’. Or at least that I needed to hurry up and get my fingerprints taken.

That’s why today I’m off to an Office Depot where apparently they do such things. I have never seen anyone fingerprinted there, never heard anyone say, “I’d like these three reams of paper,  a new office chair, and a set of fingerprints, please.”

Fingerprints are just a part of the process, as the four pages of instructions reminded me. Lots of musts and do’s and don’t’s. Lots of potholes if you didn’t read the minutiae.


Like two forms of “current (not expired nor canceled)  ID.

No  problem, I thought, smugly. Yesterday. I figured passport and NYS driver’s license. Till this morning, when my husband pointed out my driver’s license expired on my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

“They’ll probably accept it,” he said of the now no


n-current license. “They’ll understand that you couldn’t renew it cause the Department of Motor Vehicles was shut down because of COVID.”

“Yeah, but it’s the government. They have their rules,” I answered, considering my license an undone deal and shifting gears to my birth certificate. Which, for some other official pre-employment gymnastics. I’d already gotten.

PI found that, and a marriage certificate. and hoped for the best.

I also wondered about the official Badge Photography for the job.

The instructions enumerated that I couldn’t wear glasses, or a hat or head covering, or headphones (“oh, no, I’ve had my headphones permanently grafted to my ears!”).

But most perplexing was: ‘Your full face must be visible and no items should obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face.”

But … what about … The Mask? Of course, I didn’t want a Badge Photo of me wearing a mask — although that’s probably what I will look like the whole time I’m knocking on doors for this temporary gig.

Yet I’ve been trained to wear a mask in public.   It’s not fun, but I think it’s the right — the respectful, considerate, and safest  — thing to do.

Now I was being told not to wear it?

Well, happily, this morning I got the revised-for-COVID instructions, which told me to keep my mask on till it came time to take the photo.

Other COVID  precautions?

“Thoroughly wash with soap and water and dry your hands completely before your appointment,” which I will certainly do, since I have a sink and a wetbar in my car. “Avoid shaking hands or touching others after you wash your hands.” Damn, I wanted to touch all mtiltedprint2.jpgy friends at Office Depot….

And the government is apparently conducting  these pre-employment  screenings like my vet (she was first) and doctors organize F2F, 3D encounters: the no-wait waiting room. I  call from my car outside Office Depot, tell them I’m here, and wait to be invited in.

More enigmatic was: “Inform the fingerprint operator when you are ready for your appointment.” No phone number or special secret signal at the front door….

I think COVID has asked all of us to sharpen our intuition and to our thought-projecting skills.  Really, you can’t see a person’s whole face in person, or their body language. And ZOOMing, etc, takes away a lot of the vibe-feeling.

Anyway, I’m quite sure that COVID, combined with the mystical aspects of yoga that I’ve been learning lately, have prepared me to inform other people that I am ready for an appointment without any intermediary — i.e., a phone call, a text, a smoke signal.
“My prints are ready for their close-up!”

Well, it’s time to go. Wish me luck. I really could use an income.






jschensul View All →

I have two passions: animals and words. And I have managed to spend most of my life combining those two lvoes, using words to create awareness, to touch hearts, to help alleviate suffering, and to just make the world a kinder kind of place fdor all living things. I spent more than 30 years as a jo0urnalist at The Bergen Record newspaper, and have t a lifetime een using the power of words to XXX

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