A Good Pen Is Hard To Find

On Saturday my favorite black ink pen ran dry. [1] It seems like such a trivial thing but this single pen has lasted me 16 years. It was a throw-away pen from a Palm developer conference exhibitor from 1998. The irony: the company didn’t make it out of the .com era but that pen did!

I never gave much thought to why this pen was so special until it died. [2] Then suddenly I’m scrambling to find a new one. I tried all the pens in the house but none were as good. I found four problems, generally:

  1. They had a cap and caps are too easy to lose. I use my black pen a lot when highlighting physical books. Since I’m selective in my highlighting, it spends large amounts of time in my hand. So I don’t risk writing on myself and because I want to preserve the pen’s useful life, I always keep the pen covered. With a cap, I’d have to use two hands to cap/uncap. A click pen works much better.
  2. They needed to be warmed up. A couple of the pens we had around here seemed to constantly dry. I’d draw a line to highlight a passage, read for a while, draw another. By the time I’d draw the second the stinking ink wouldn’t come out and I’d have to try two or three times to get a line. This happened even if I retracted the tip. How annoying!
  3. They weren’t the right weight. I like a medium tip pen. Thin pens don’t do it for me at all. On top of that, some pens didn’t feel right in my hand. Some were too heavy in the tip and some too heavy in the back.
  4. It didn’t move on all kinds of paper well. I found that many of the pens would work fine on a smooth paper but on a little rougher one, the pen wouldn’t move across the paper well, wouldn’t leave the right amount of ink, or would move with the paper instead of my hand, making my lines jag all over the place.

Silly, right? A little so. Plus, it really shows off my anal retentive nature, something I would have been embarrassed about and hid when I was a teenager but now embrace. [3]

The bottom line, though, I made a rare pilgrimage to my local Office Depot and bought myself a new pen. [4] Hopefully my hunt will be over and I won’t have to go through this hell for another 16 years.

[1] Yes, I keep one black ink pen and one blue ink pen on my desk. My blue ink pen, a Cross pen given to me by my high school computer science teacher as a graduation gift, is my absolute favorite pen, mostly for the memories. I use it primarily for contract signing, which I learned long ago to do with a blue pen so I can tell when it had been copied.

[2] May it rest in peace, wherever the souls of great pens go after death.

[3] Thank you, Apple, for making anal retentive-ness okay. And thank you, web, for making “nerd” a positive term.

[4] It’s a Foray 1.2mm advanced ink ballpoint, four to a package, for $3. And yes, I opened the package to try it out first.

2 thoughts on “A Good Pen Is Hard To Find

  1. If you are looking for a stash of pens, I highly recommend the Pilot V-Ball Extra Fine – item no. LB-5.

    They have a cap but write exceptionally well on pretty much all surfaces for a “stock” pen.

    Made in Japan.

    On Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 7:00 AM, Elia Insider

Comments are closed.