I don't know how most people are about their writing utensils, but I have always been very particular about my pens. I know I'm not alone in this — many of my co-workers feel the same way.
If you know about this, then you know the ink has to flow just right, the grip has to feel perfect in your fingers, and the boldness of your stroke has to turn out just right. I have the additional requirement that they be retractable pens since I mostly carry them around in my pocket. I can spend thirty minutes in the office supply aisle of any store perusing the shelves to see if any new kinds of pens have come out, while stocking up on more pens to add to my stash, since I always need them in both black and red.
It seems as though I am always in need of new pens. I'm not sure exactly where they go. Sometimes they end up in the washing machine, occasionally they fall out of my pocket and I find them later in places such as the floor of my car and under the counter in my bathroom. But most of the time my pens just simply disappear, as if they had suddenly jumped through a wormhole into another dimension, probably a dimension where the pens carry tiny retractable versions of me around in their pockets and reluctantly lend me out only to those they know, trust and love the most.
Several of my co-workers have resorted to adding unique stickers onto their pens so that they can later pounce upon pen steals and proclaim that the pen is undoubtedly their own. They can tell by the tiny heart, frog or flower sticker clinging to them. I have never done this myself. Mostly because I feel like a sticker on my pen would mar the perfection of a pen I've spent so much energy picking out and buying, but also because I am probably the worst pen thief there is.
I wasn't aware that I was a pen stealer until recently. There are days that I leave for work with two pens in my pocket and come home with none. But there are other days that I come home from work, empty out my pockets, and realize that I have somehow, over the course of the day, added an additional five pens to my pocket stash. It seemed like a constant ebb and flow of pen owning, an ebb and flow which probably could be somehow correlated to the tides or the phases of the moon.
But just last week I sat down with a co-worker while we were waiting for a test to be completed. I noticed that he had some very nice pens but thought that all I did was give them a little appreciative glance. A few minutes later my co-worker noticed that his pens were gone. He whipped around in his chair and accused me of stealing his pens. I was thoroughly indignant; of course I didn't steal his pens! I have my own! How dare he accuse me of such a heinous crime! To prove my innocence I emptied out my pockets while he watched, and to my shock two of his pens came out along with my own pens, papers, hair ties and the various other items I keep in my pockets. I had no memory of picking up his pens, or putting them in my pockets; I was a subconscious pen thief.
My co-worker probably will never leave anything out within my reach again, though I tried to explain that the thievery hadn't been purposeful, I just probably have a deep-rooted pen hoarding problem.
We're still friends, but I suspect he'll be the next co-worker to start adding identifying stickers to his pens.
Zoe Abel profusely apologizes to all the people who have been left pen-less in the wake of her pen-stealing destruction. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.