Freedom, Credit, and a Story

Society gives us many choices in our purchasing power these days. I like plastic. You know, the little card with the BIG PUNCH. The punch comes at the end of the billing cycle when I discover just how much credit I have charged over the course of one month. Then I feel like punching myself for spending more money than I can possibly pay back. For those who really want to be noticed there is the "Gold Card". Mail advertisements assure me this special card is only awarded to those with an 'Above Average' credit rating. The accompanying letter congratulates me for spending more money than I can possibly pay back and offers me, what else, more credit. At one point in my life, I was feeling a bit depressed and decided to get myself a gold card so that I, too, could be someone special.

The exasperated shoe store clerk announced the total for my new tennis shoes that light up in the dark. "That will be $175.59." I proudly pulled out my new gold card and snapped it smartly down on the counter.

"That's a gold card," I said with an air of authority.

"I don't care if it's a pink polka dot card as long as you have credit left on it." the tired clerk stated as she ran my card through the sensor. I left with the store with my purchase feeling oddly deflated.

The next time I attempted to use my card was at a local restaurant. This time I exercised more humility and simply handed over my card without comment. The manager, however, did have a comment. "We don't take this credit card.”

"Well, what credit card do you take, I have several.” Reaching into my wallet I extracted a pile of plastic cards and managed to drop a few on the floor. The manager eyed them curiously.

"We don't take any credit cards. We don't take checks. We take cash.” I could feel my face begin to tinge red.

"I, uh... I think I'll have to run over to the bank machine and get some cash if you don't mind.”

"No, I don't mind. Just leave your credit card here until you come back.”

"I thought you didn't take credit cards,” I said.

"Oh, I'll take it all right,” he grinned. "You just can't use it to pay the bill. We got some dishes in the back that need washing...”

I paid the bill with money obtained from an ATM machine with yet another plastic card. Having been, once again, thoroughly humiliated I murmured, "touché" to my gold card as I stuffed it into my wallet. That night after everyone was asleep I cut it into little pieces and felt avenged. Years later when the last payment was made I felt truly free of the bondage that little piece of plastic had lured me into.

There is a different price to pay which cannot be paid on credit or even with cold hard cash. It is the price of freedom. The cost involved is a personal sacrifice by you and by me.

The cost of freedom can be terrible and high. History tells of young men dying far away from home for our freedom in these United States of America. We used to sing of its mighty cost. Grandma served on the gas rationing board with no pay during world war II. My dad served near the end of the war. I gave four years of my life to the United States Army and many others have given much more; even their lives. But it doesn't stop. There is always a price to pay.

I wonder just how willing we are to pay? Or have we finally come to the place of trying to charge it off to another day, or even for another person to pay?

© copyright 2021 h mark taylor

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