Where Do Pens Go?
A Philosphical Exploration
by Susan Odgers
As I was reading my brother's coffee cup the other day (you know, the one that says "I only work here for the free pens and rubber bands"), I wondered, Where do all the lost pens go?
Think of the one you last saw-- by the telephone, on the desk, on the table. It's magic: now you see it, now you don't.
In desperation, you shout "Where'd the pen go?! Someone quick! I need a pen!"
They always have a pen. Why is this?
A pen is by nature elusive.
This is largely a matter of its shape. Because it's round, it will roll nicely on any angled surface. It's also fairly smooth, in the sense of not having any major appendages or knobs, which allows it to slide deep into crevices. Being slim and narrow also helps it hide in the bottom of your purse, in the back of a drawer, or between two books.
If a pen has a pocket clip, it will attach itself to the most unsuspected places--the inside of a folded sheet of paper, the cuff of your coat, between the pages of your checkbook. It can hitch a ride on your keychain. It can be seen hanging by a thread, ready to fall and escape your grasp.
The elusive pen knows no owner. It doesn't have a bill of sale, much less a license, and therefore passes virtually unnoticed from one person to another: "May I borrow your pen?"
Since it lacks a homing device for its safe return, once a pen is passed--however innocently--it is likely never to be seen again.
You can't call it, as you would a dog. I wonder what would happen if you were to put your phone number on it, with a message for whoever comes into possession of it to call you--like people do with their cats, or sometimes even dollar bills.
Where would your pen travel? Where might it be at any given time? Could you put a Clapper on it?
Some pens have lamentably short lifespans. After escaping your pocket, your pen could be run over by a car or truck right there in the parking lot where it lands. Maybe we need a cemetery for lost pens.
And where do lost pens ultimately go?
The other person has it.
(c) COPYRIGHT 2002 SUSAN ODGERS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.