Spending Some Time in the ‘Pen’

I’m a thief! There, I said it.

I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest for some time. It’s not easy coming clean after all these years. For a person of high principles, like me, it’s difficult admitting that I’ve often taken something that belongs to someone else without asking.

I steal writing implements. I am a pen pilferer.

Yes. Sad, but it’s true. Despite being a weekly churchgoer, I find myself routinely violating one of the Ten Commandments. I grant you, “Thou Shalt Not Steal” only ranks No. 8 on the list –– making stealing ink pens only slightly less abominable than sleeping with your neighbor’s wife (No. 7) –– but I still feel like I’m riding the bullet train to hell.

Most of the time, I steal an ink pen without even knowing it. I think they call that “kleptographium.”

What usually happens is that I will “borrow” a pen off of someone’s desk to sign a document or to fill out a form, and then fail to put it back. Instead, I’ll return it to my briefcase, to be discovered later when I dump the contents onto my desk at home.

Sometimes, I’ll wear an ink pen home. Without thinking, I will slide the pen into my shirt pocket, or onto a common perch atop my right ear. That’s how I acquired the Viagra ink pen that I’m using now. At least I hope that’s how I got it. All I remember is people pointing at my right ear and laughing, which I guess is better than the alternative location.

I’ve been assured that stealing an ink pen with a logo emblazoned on the side isn’t really stealing. It’s a form of company self-promotion, they say. It’s OK. The company wants you to take it.

All I can say is, that sure wasn’t the company’s attitude when I tried to take the FedEx truck parked at the end of my street.

Bank ink pens seem to be a big part of my collection. Going through my pen holder on my desk, I count 12. It’s ironic since that’s three more than the total number of dollars I actually have in bank accounts.

Two of the pens belong to banks that closed. They might have survived had people stopped stealing their pens.

I’m old enough to remember when most banking transactions were held inside the bank, and the banks used to anchor their pens to the counter with a logging chain. I liked that idea. It gave me a sense that the company cared enough about my money to put measures in place to protect it.

Now they give away pens. What does THAT tell you?

I have ink pens from six different insurance agencies. Two of them use invisible ink.

My friend Amy uses an ink pen with pink swirls on the barrel, and a miniature My Little Pony stuck on the top. She claims she’s had that pen for 27 years. Amy works in an auto repair shop with 11 men. Did I mention how smart Amy is?

For some reason, I seem to have a lot of pens from funeral homes. I’ve never understood ink pens from funeral homes. Do they think we are going to use them to fill out our “Things to Do, Tomorrow” list?

Maybe they put them there just for me. If I feel the temperature rising on my way to eternity, I can use that pen to write “I’m sorry that I took your ink pen” one thousand times inside the lid.

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.