This is a work of f(r)iction where fact and fiction rub up against each other, and nobody wants to know anyway.
I worked on the 2006 Census in my neighborhood, the Downtown East Side.
The data had to be collected in-person as there was no mail-in form allowed for this neighborhood. So I went door-to-door to gather the information. Since I had just come back from living in Papua New Guinea I was a little culture shocked as it was. Lots of places I went into were unbelievable — single-room-occupancy buildings (SROs) that were dark, with rats running around. Sometimes we needed flashlights to fill out the forms. Many times we couldn’t get into a building so we’d have to talk with the manager to gain access. These folks weren’t allowed visitors. One time we had to go into a pub to get them to open up.
I did one long-form with a man while a party was going on. I was by myself and I tried to get it over with as fast as possible. They were getting drunk and laughing and making snide remarks throughout. I pretended I didn’t hear the lewd remarks coming out of the bedroom. But I had to ask him questions about farm machinery; I mean how could you not joke about that?
It was fascinating — a Third World experience in this very neighborhood, which has high-end condos next to SROs, sitting on the line between the East and West sides of Vancouver.