Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
TITLE: Automated Prayer Service
By Annora Williams
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Soon she finds herself at the front of the line and enters the booth. She deposits her coins and presses the familiar buttons. After a couple of rings a melodic voice answers, “Hello, you have reached the Automated Prayer Service Line. For prayer requests, press 1; for asking of forgiveness, press 2; for sending thanks and praise, press 3; for all other requests, press 4. If you wish to speak to a representative please press 0 at this time. Thank you for using the APS.”
Ruby presses 1 and waits. Another voice comes on the line, “You have connected with prayer requests. If you are calling for others, press 1. If you are calling for yourself, press 2. If you need another department, press 9 to return to the main menu.”
Before Ruby can press a button, a mechanical tone sounds followed by, “To stay on the line, please deposit more coins.”
Ruby is ready and quickly complies with the request by inserting the rest of the coins from her bag. She is rewarded by a curt, “Thank you.”
She presses 1 and waits again to be connected. She hears a click followed by yet another voice, “Listen to the options closely in order to help us better expedite your call. Press 1 for family members. Press 2 for friends. Press 3 for acquaintances. Press 4 for strangers.”
Ruby sighs and presses 2. Although she is more used to this new method, praying was so much easier before God decided to implement all this new-fangled technology and automate the whole process. Now there’s a wait and lots of pressing of buttons.
As Ruby waits yet again, chamber music plays and she allows herself to think back to the not so distant past. She used to be able to simply raise her eyes to heaven or bow her head to speak to God. She could fall on her knees and ask for forgiveness when she felt the need. Thanks and praise were given directly to her Lord without the use of buttons and mechanical voices. Her prayers could be sent whenever she felt compelled. Now there is a system in place filled with bureaucratic procedures and policies.
Finally the music stops and another voice is heard on the line, “The department you are trying to reach has a wait time of 45 minutes. Please stay on the line and wait your turn. If this is not an option for you at this time, press 5 to simply leave your name and request. We will place your message in the queue for God’s viewing and consideration. Thank you and have a good day.”
Ruby presses 5 knowing that the last of the coins she has deposited won’t cover the wait. She gives her name and prayer request then slowly replaces the receiver in its cradle. She then turns and exits the booth so the next person in line can enter to make their call.
With tears in her eyes, she walks back to her home and wishes again that things could be like they were before. That was when she felt more connected and loved. This way just seems so---impersonal.
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