Someone told the office manager that we needed more pens. Three days later, there are all of these boxes in the supply room. I thought, great, finally, I only had like one pen left. At one point there were at least a half a dozen in this decorative mug I keep on my desk, but, and I don’t want to point any fingers here, because I know how crazy it sounds, for me to just go around giving this blanket accusation toward basically everybody in the office, but it’s the only reasonable explanation I’ve got, that someone’s taking my pens.
Do I think it’s anything personal? No, I mean, I can understand it, sometimes. It’s not like I have my own office. And yes, I can think of maybe one or two fluke occasions where I was on the phone with a vendor or a client and I needed a pen – probably because someone had stolen all of mine. Was it Jones? – so I’d kind of just reach over the cubicle wall, not over, but around, I’d take it.
But, and I’m trying here, I’m going back in my head, trying to make a real thorough inventory of how many times this could have happened, and I’m really only picking out two or three distinct memories. Two, it was definitely two. And each time, I’ve put the pens back as soon as I was done with them.
I remember the second time vividly because as I was reaching back around the cubicle, Sally was like, “What are you doing?” and so I told her, “Sorry Sally, I just had to grab a pen real quick, and here it is, I’m giving it back.” She recoiled, it was a physical reaction, a pained look of disgust, “Ew, OK, not ew, but still, just … it’s yours. Just keep it.”
But I pushed it a little, because I knew where it was going to go if I did push it, just a little further, I told her, “OK well, I just thought you might want your pen back.” And it did, it went exactly where I thought it would, she said, “I’ll just take some more from the supply room. It’s a pen.”
It’s not just a pen. I said that to Sally, I said, “It’s not just a pen, Sally. I’m always losing pens. And then there are no pens in the supply room. And yeah, they get filled eventually, but it’s just unnerving, I just want my pens. If everybody just kept track of their pens, we wouldn’t have any of these problems.”
Whatever, she stopped paying attention, turned her back toward me to show how little she cared about how much I cared about the pens. But how could I not? I was sitting there, the day before the new pens came in, it was a crystal BIC, black, but, and this is a pretty bad habit, yes, but the cap was all chewed up. Nobody took that one.
If I had the same six pens that I had grabbed from the supply room weeks ago, I wouldn’t chew on all of them, just the one. But people steal the good ones, – it’s definitely Jones, he’s got like fifteen pens on his desk – and I’m left with this barely functional, old pen.
Fine, new pens, I’ll get over it. Only, these aren’t crystal BICs, they’re some knockoff pen, the ballpoint doesn’t really roll that smoothly, keeps leaving behind these globs of ink on the page, my sleeve is getting dirty. And there’s no structure to the pen itself, it’s like this thing, it’s made out of rubber, or plastic, like a really cheap plastic.
“Come on Margaret,” I went to the office manager’s office, “Why didn’t you get the good pens?” And she barely even registered my complaint, “It’s a pen, jeez, it’s just a pen.” But it’s not a pen. Or, OK, it’s a pen, yes, but what’s the thought process behind picking out the cheapest pen available? We had crystal BICs, and now we have this off-brank junk. How much could you be saving the company? And why? Just because it’s “just a pen” doesn’t mean you have to buy the absolutely lowest-priced model.
Don’t you think if maybe we bought moderately priced pens, nothing fancy, I don’t see what was wrong with the crystal BICs, don’t you think we’d be spending less money in the long term if you think about how many we’re all going to be just eventually throwing away? Because these things are terrible, honestly, what are you saving, like twenty bucks? Can I just donate twenty bucks to the office supply budget?
And I swear to God, as I was talking to Margaret, which was going nowhere by the way, I saw Jones, on the phone, he walked right past my desk. He went right for my last crystal BIC, he took one of my tissues and threw away the chewed up cap, and he putsthe pen behind his ear. I walked over to say something, like what the hell Jones? You’re going to take my last crystal BIC? But he was on a phone call, I went to say something, he just put his finger in the air, like, one second buddy, and then he turned it into a thumbs up and walked away. Come on man, this isn’t pen communism here, those are my pens, can we just establish a few rules? Just like three or four pen rules?
Just three pen rules. Rule one: Only buy good pens. Rule two: Get your own pens from the supply room. Rule three: Stop taking pens off of my desk, OK Jones? I’m going to lose it, I swear to God, just give me back my BIC, now.