Yesterday tropical storm Beta's remnants came to my part of Tennessee. Because I had another previous appointment Thursday morning, I had only signed up to work half a day. But I checked my schedule shortly after getting up, and found that I had not been assigned any cases, which we had been told in training to expect. Looking out at the gray and wet world, I was glad that I would not be spending my afternoon slogging around in the rain trying to chase down people who had not taken the time to fill out the census form or preferred not to do so. So after getting home from my successful morning appointment of renewing my military ID card, I happily set to work baking bread and some cookie bars I had been wanting to try. That went well, as did catching up on my French lessons which had been sadly neglected a bit in the last week as I was in census training. But during all of that I felt a bit like I was somehow living in an another world. Wednesday, I think, had been more intense than I had thought, and now I was feeling disjointed from my usual world. I know that some of it had to do with seeing in reality how so many in my part of Tennessee are living, the wide discrepancy between my little community and those in neighborhoods and communities not far distant whose lives are far different from what my life has ever been. For example, everyone in my neighborhood knows each other. But in so many neighborhoods the people right next door don't know anything about their neighbors. They may randomly notice comings and goings, but apparently they have never even spoken or said "hello." I realize that as a government employee to some I may appear to be a threat, though we are told to emphasize that anything that is shared is totally private and is protected by both the Commerce Department and myself who took an oath to never divulge for the rest of my life particulars that I might learn on the job to even my close family members. Wednesday's work set me out of my personal comfort zone, and I think that may be a good thing. Sometimes you can't really appreciate the life you have until you see for yourself how others are living. Thankfully, every personal encounter I had Wednesday was good. But encounters that did not happen were at locations which were often deeply sad and even depressing. Well, the sun is supposed to come out later today, and I will likely be hitting the road again to count heads.