The U.S. Census Bureau likes my family. I know this because they call us once a month.
I get calls from a census lady who talks like she's from Bombay. She always wants to know exactly how many hours I worked the previous week. (This could be my boss disguising her voice. I do not know.)
A couple of weeks ago, my wife got an official-looking letter saying she had been picked to participate in the American Time Use Survey.
When the census worker called several days later, the survey lasted 20 minutes. She asked questions like: "What time did you wake up yesterday?" and "How long did you spend on the grooming process?"
The grooming process?
The most bizarre question came after my wife noted that she spent 30 minutes before bedtime playing solitaire on an iPad.
"How satisfied were you with your husband at that time?" the census worker asked.
"Oh my gosh," I'm thinking. "Were they asking about satisfaction with your husband while you were playing with the iPad or your satisfaction with your husband at bedtime?"
I know the U.S. Census needs information, but still.
My friends are dubious about my family's frequent census calls. They say if the census people ask us if we have a pit bull or if we're going to be home on Wednesday between 9 p.m. and midnight, we should call the cops.
For now, though, we are trying to be good citizens.
Incidentally, I don't think it's fair that my wife got to take the long, what-do-you-do-every-minute-of-the-day survey, and I did not.
Men do important things, too.
• For example, I spend 17 minutes a day tying my 5-year-old son's shoes. He unties them on purpose. I think it's because he likes to hear my knees crackle.
• I spend 13 minutes a day eating high-fiber cereal and drinking Metamucil. I spend 30 minutes a day dealing with the aftermath.
• I spent 10 minutes one day last week teaching my 5-year-old son how to hit acorns into a neighbor's yard with a tennis racket.
• Some people play golf to relax; I watch bad reality television. I spend 22 minutes a day watching redneck women on horseback chasing wild pigs across Texas.
• Finally, I spend 24 hours a day being thankful for being born in America and for being blessed with a beautiful wife and two healthy sons.
And, if you ask me, that's all anybody really needs to know.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.
Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...