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Prepay Plan, a Short Story
A Short Story by Tamara Wilhite
As he walked into the church sanctuary, Lee heard his cell phone buzz to inform him its payment function has been activated. Lee glanced around before approaching one of the deacons. “Guys, I think there’s a thief here; my RFID pay pass was used –“
“Oh, what do you think of our new donation system?” the deacon asked.
“You know about it?” Lee asked.
“Oh, yes, it was installed earlier this week.” The deacon beamed brightly. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
“I just had my account debited.” Lee’s hands instinctively covered his wallet. “I didn’t agree to this – to you all just taking money out of my account.”
“We had a discussion on it at our last financial meeting. Everyone was invited. There was so much concern about cash handling and deposits to the bank, and about too few parishioners doing the donating. We agreed nearly unanimously – and far over the 60% amount required by church policy – to install the system.” Lee followed the deacon’s eyes up, and saw the device that had sent the signal to his debit card and relayed the information from there to the bank and from there to the church’s bank account. “It debits the account of everyone here with a toll tag or payment chip or pre-programmed cell phone with credit card codes.”
“How much do you take?” Lee asked.
“The standard amount.”
Lee raised an eyebrow, trying not to get visibly angry in front of everyone else. “How much is the standard amount? $20? $49.99?”
“Ten percent of your stated income or 10% of your last checking account deposit, of course.”
The anger was too much to contain. Lee announced indignantly, “That’s outrageous!”
The deacon smiled gently, as if Lee should have known all of this already. “The congregation agreed to take the biblical amount. As a member of our church, you’ve agreed -”
“What if I don’t agree to it?” Lee challenged.
“You came in, didn’t you?” The deacon pointed to a sign in the lobby. “And we did put up a sign at the entrance for those who might not have attended the finance meeting. Didn’t you read it?”
Lee couldn’t bring himself to admit that he saw no reason to bother reading the posted signs. He’d just listen to the announcements at the start of service before turning on his iTunes. “Well, then, maybe I won’t come so often,” Lee stammered.
“How often you choose to attend is your business. However, we are talking about the business of saving your soul.”
“Then I’ll go to another church,” Lee retorted.
“If you’re hoping to avoid the new prepay option, I just want to warn you - the idea is catching on fast, so going elsewhere may not exempt you from this experience.” The deacon’s smile became gentler. “The only other option is to not go to church – and the price of that is your soul.”