When reading I tend to scribble notes, underline and even, from time to time, express an opinion in response to the subject matter of the book.

I always keep at least two biros handy in case one runs out of ink and I’m suddenly left without the means to record my thoughts before they escape through my ears.

The other night one of my biros did run out of ‘fuel’ so it was quickly consigned to the wastepaper basket. But then, I stopped and looked at the abandoned pen and began to ponder its existence.

My first thought was that I had just casually and unthinkingly thrown away an amazing and perfectly operating machine just because it had run out of its once-off supply of fuel.

Given the rapidly dwindling resources available to us avaricious humans, I thought, wouldn’t it make much more sense to design the pen so that the fuel could be replenished thus extending the life of the machine by many years.

It is true that some biros are designed to take a refill but these are usually in the more expensive range. And, it’s fair to say, it wouldn’t make economic sense to manufacture refills for the ubiquitous BIC biros.

But the biro featured here (above), the one I threw away so casually comes under a category I would call – promotional. Trillions of them are manufactured every year and given away free to promote an endless list of causes and businesses.

Just look at it. It’s a superbly designed and, I would say, beautiful machine with simple parts. It’s easily disassembled with the capacity to refill.

It’s my favourite pen design – slim, metal, with good balance weight and comfortable to hold. I would keep this pen for a lifetime if refills were available.

And then my thoughts came back to us modern avaricious humans and I wondered.

Suppose this pen, fully fuelled up, was to slip into a worm hole and travel back in time to a human occupied cave of about 20,000 years ago.

It would cause a sensation, it would be revered as a gift from the gods or, even, a god in itself. The cave humans would use it to create cave art. They would probably draw the pen itself, such was its incredible design and power.

And when the pen ran out of its magic fluid they would mourn the loss of its lifeblood. But the pen would remain, would still be worshipped and be seen for what it is, an amazing machine unlike anything they had ever seen in nature.

The pen would be handed down to generation after generation with ever fantastic stories and myths surrounding its origin, power and destiny.

It would eventually be discovered by the descendants of the cave people – us.

And promptly consigned to the nearest wastepaper basket.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Death of The Pen God (BackGardenPhilosophy)

Pic via Anthony

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10 thoughts on “Sell Me This Pen

  1. Rosette of Sirius

    Promotional material aka swag is worth an annual $24 billion in the US alone. Most of it is plastic. And most all of it is disposable and in many cases rapidly disposed of. It’s a pretty shameful waste of money and resources along with everything else that’s so easily disposed of these days.

    1. Slightly Bemused

      I agree, but sometimes you hit upon gems, just as the original poster indicated with his pen. In my case, the best insulated mug I have ever used is a plastic multi-walled one given to me free at an event a goodly number of years ago.Better than several more expensive ones provided to me before (that I paid for) and since (because people thought the plastic one looked less up to date).

  2. Slightly Bemused

    Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the colour blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to ballpoint life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended ballpoints would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely ballpointoid lifestyle, responding to highly ballpoint-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the ballpoint equivalent of the good life.

      1. Slightly Bemused

        Thanks. Douglas Adams, from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The man was a genius with a weirdly wonderfully twisted mind :)

  3. H

    To make things worse, sometimes if too many promotional items are produced they go out of date, or in the case of pens, the ink dries out before they ever get handed out leading to a horrific waste of money and resources.

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