that’s the only explanation I can come up with . . . and Target apparently was targeted. I’m a Target shopper and Target was one of the first to switch to chip readers. Along with that switch from swipe card to insert card came the signal (or more accurately labeled the alarm) instructing me to remove my card. This signal was a strident, persistent, repetitive, annoying buzzer sound that did not stop until my card was removed from the chip reader.
Now this is a good thing because no one wants to leave the store without their credit card, including me. Of course, back when we swiped our cards, this alarm wasn’t necessary because our card never left our hands. Anyway, someone must have complained about this loud, jarring buzzer sound because now when I check out at Target the signal for me to remove my card is a soft, melodic, chiming sound, which repeats itself, much to my delight. This sound is so beautiful that I actually want to hear it again. Truth be told, I have been known to leave my card in a moment or two longer than necessary just to continue listening to this harmonious, soothing sound.
Target may want to rethink this, if the chimes are slowing things down too much at checkout. Come to think of it, I bet it was the cashiers who complained about the buzzer sound. After all, they are the ones who have to listen all day long to one sound or the other.
The previous loud buzzer sound produced in me a sense of alarm, even urgency. The current chiming sound invites me to take a breath, to relax, to enjoy the moment. Of course, the buzzer sound is doing its’ job. I should be alarmed at the prospect of leaving my card behind in the store and I should be quick to retrieve my card. (I’m sure all those waiting in line behind me would agree with that last statement) Although acting quickly is probably more a function of just wanting that loud buzzing noise to stop, than of anything else.
The blaring buzzer sound says in effect, “danger, danger, your card is in imminent danger, please rescue or retrieve it immediately before it is lost, mangled beyond recognition or eaten by the evil chip reader.” On the other hand, the chimes sing sweetly, “There’s no hurry to remove your card. In fact, you can leave your card with us if you like. We’ll take good care of it and keep it safe for you until your next visit”. (kinda reminds me of the Sirens from the Odyssey, come to think of it)
That same week there was a fire drill at school. But I did not recognize it as a fire drill. There was no blaring, deafening, buzzer sounding repeatedly. Instead there was a faint bell, sounding intermittently. There was nothing urgent nor alarming about the signal. But this signal was significantly easier on my ears. The old fire drill alarm was literally painful to hear, it hurt my ears. I wanted to get away from that sound as soon as possible. But who am I to question such a change? such progress?
The old signal was a demand, a requirement; uncomfortable and incessant, it drove us out of the building, burning or not. Its’ replacement is more of a suggestion to exit the building if you feel like it. And by the way, feel free to do so in your own time and at your own pace, it adds. Danger can’t be that imminent, the faint tone reassures us. There is no need for you to hurry.
Sometimes I think we live our lives as if all the warning signals are gone and in their place are sweet sounding reassurances and popular mantras such as “there will always be more time”, or “it doesn’t really matter what you do” or “just this once” or “do your own thing”, “have it your way”, “go with your gut” or “you don’t have to make a decision, you don’t need to leave the comfort of where you are now”, “you should do what you want to do or what seems right to you” or “it’s not really that bad/harmful/dangerous/wrong/unkind”. But I wonder . . .
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Am I fooling myself? Am I not heeding the warning signals God sends my way to protect me? Or have I allowed these signals to be replaced with more agreeable and comfortable ways of thinking — something that “sounds” more pleasing to me, just as the chimes do. And so I wonder . . .
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” (Psalm 14:1)
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator –who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:25)
“But God said to him, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. Then who will get it all?’ ” (Luke 12:20)
” . . . then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
I have to make that choice everyday, who will I serve? God is still in the business of saving us from ourselves, if we want to be rescued. Our culture may be replacing God’s alarms or warnings with its’ own sweeter sounding mantras — but God’s word still stands, speaking truth and life into our lives today.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)
God’s word is both a warning and an invitation; a warning to the wise and an invitation to “whosoever will”. His word is both buzzer and chime.
sincerely, Grace Day