That same afternoon, Marie Shaw was driving southbound on Interstate 15 heading to her parents’ home in Orem, Utah. Her semester at the University of Utah had been stressful, and since she didn’t have classes because of Presidents Day, she’d decided to visit her parents rather than sit around in her campus apartment.
It was an unusually warm day, and Marie definitely had a case of “Spring Fever.” She pulled her long brown hair back into a ponytail and rolled the windows down on her Volkswagen Jetta. The car stereo was tuned to a pop-rock station, and she started singing along to popstar Britney Spears’ recent hit, “Till the World Ends.”
Marie laughed to herself, thinking about the song’s basic message of focusing on worldly pleasures rather than worrying about the future. Instead, Britney encouraged everyone to just go to a nightclub and “keep on dancing till the world ends.”
“You go for it, Britney,” Marie said, “but I don’t think life’s always going to be that easy.”
As the song ended, the radio DJ said, “We’re getting more details about that thwarted bombing in Minnesota yesterday that targeted one of the Mormon apostles. Apparently the big hero was a missionary named Nathan Foster from Utah County. Reports say he confronted the bomber and then actually tossed the bomb outside, saving many lives. Way to go, Elder Foster!”
Marie nearly ran off the road when she heard the missionary’s name. She and Nathan had been in the same ward growing up, and they had become good friends before she headed off to college. Curiously, just a few days earlier she’d been wondering where he had ended up.
“I guess he’s doing all right!” she told herself. Another song started playing, and Marie turned up the volume. The song had a catchy synthesizer rhythm and consisted of only a few words, but it was becoming a national sensation. The chorus was, “It’s hip to get the chip, yeah, yeah. Do it right, and don’t get left behind. It’s hip to get the chip!”
Marie had read in People magazine that the song was actually written by the prolific songwriter and performer Lady Gaga, and Marie could definitely hear the artist’s style in the music.
Marie started singing along, then she looked into the car next to her and noticed a burly male driver singing along as well. They both laughed and gave each other a thumbs-up sign before he sped off ahead of her.
When the song ended, the DJ said, “That’s the new smash hit ‘Get the Chip’ by the group Chippy and Friends. It’s a stupid name for a group, but that song is awesome!”
When Marie got to her parents’ home, she was happy to find her mother Carol there.
“Wasn’t that bombing in Minnesota terrible?” Carol asked as they sat around the kitchen table and munched on some freshly baked cookies. “I’m so grateful Elder Smith is okay.”
Marie nodded. “On the radio just now they said the missionary is a Nathan Foster from Utah. Could it be the Nathan we know?”
“I would imagine,” Carol said. “The local news is about to start. Go turn on the TV and see if they say anything.”
As expected, the bombing was the lead story, with a spokesman from the LDS Church saying that about two dozen Saints were recovering from cuts and bruises from the chapel’s shattered windows, but that everyone was going to recover.
Then the report shifted to the local angle, and Nathan Foster’s senior yearbook photo was shown.
Marie smiled. “I was right! It’s him.”
The report explained that Nathan was currently still hospitalized but would be returning home from his mission in about two weeks. As the report concluded, Marie went to the computer and looked up additional stories about the bombing.
Carol let Marie browse the internet undisturbed, secretly pleased at Marie’s interest in Nathan. She knew her daughter hadn’t been attending church very often during her time at college, and it bothered her. Marie needed friends who were a bit more devoted to the gospel.
After a few minutes, Carol grabbed the plate of cookies and moved to Marie’s side at the computer, where she was looking at a recent photo of Nathan that a Church member in Minnesota had posted on a blog.
“Hey, he’s cuter than I remembered,” Carol said. “Maybe you should give him a call when he gets home.”
“Mom, we were just friends!” Marie said in feigned disgust, but she had already decided to attend his homecoming talk.
As Nathan was resting in his hospital bed that evening, the president of the United States came on for a special primetime Presidents Day broadcast on all of the TV networks.
As a missionary, Nathan had been sheltered from everyday life, but he’d heard a lot of the propaganda about something called “the chip” for the past few weeks. In seemingly every conversation they’d had with people, the topic would always turn to the chip. It was being mentioned in mysterious commercials and even in a hit song he’d heard blaring from passing cars. Now it looked like the president was finally going to explain what it was. He began by holding up a small capsule that the camera zoomed in on.
“You are looking at a technological masterpiece,” he said. “This tiny microchip can hold more information than a shelf full of books, and it is about to make all of our lives better.”
He placed the chip in a tray on his desk and leaned earnestly toward the camera. “As a nation, we’ve all noticed a feeling of growing unrest for a variety of reasons. The civil disobedience is frightening, but this chip is the answer. I invite every U.S. citizen to receive their own personal chip. Your personal information will be loaded onto it, eliminating the need to carry ID cards or even credit cards. All transactions will be possible through the chip.”
The president clasped his hands in front of him. “The purpose isn’t to punish law-abiding citizens such as yourselves, but to stop those who are causing our distress. This chip would allow us to easily track those at scenes of violence and apprehend them. Also, it will essentially eliminate identity theft and protect our financial assets. Speaking of money, we will give a $2,000 tax credit to anyone who receives their chip by the end of February.”
The president added, “As we celebrate this special holiday, I believe our noble presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would have welcomed such an innovative technology if it had been available in their times.”
The president then explained that “chip implant centers” had been established in all major cities. He emphasized that those who waited beyond the end of the month would have to pay an implantation fee and would lose the tax credit.
The president ended the broadcast by saying, “This program will boost our economy, reduce crime, and make our lives much more efficient. It is a 10-second procedure that only stings a little. I know, because I received the chip myself earlier today.”
The president held up his right hand, and the camera zoomed in on it. He pointed to a tiny puncture on the back of his hand.
“See, it’s hardly noticeable,” he said. “As a nation, what have we got to lose?”
Nathan turned off the TV and rolled onto his side. The president’s message had made him sick to his stomach. During the past two years of knocking on doors, he had met literally hundreds of families who depended on the government to pay all their bills for them. It wasn’t that they were disabled and couldn’t work—they were just happy to let Uncle Sam foot the bill. They weren’t rich, but they could sit at home all day. To Nathan, the chip seemed like just another way for the government to shackle the people.
“Well, they’ll have to give my $2,000 to someone else,” he thought. “There’s no way I’m getting that thing.”