Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ballpoint idealism

In high school I was a cashier at a Dip 'n Dots stand. I never had to bring anything to work except myself; my supplies were at work. Including pens. During my first two summers of college, I got internships. Pens were always around.

The summer after my junior year, my pen ran out of ink, and there weren't any other pens. I started asking the supervisors for a pen, and ended up going around the entire office of four or five engineers. One of them did scrounge up a writing utensil for me, but it really was scrounged - out of the drawer of an abandoned desk or something. Not out of a supply cabinet as I had expected. They all seemed amused that I was asking for a pen, too, and I realized that they brought their own pens to work.

I felt really strongly that my workplace should provide me with writing utensils, and it was a mild shock to realize that not everyone felt that way.

Since graduation, I have continued to use pens provided by my employers. I never had a repeat of that episode at my internship; pens have just been supplied.

This morning, I talked with the accounting assistant about the pens they have now: they skip. (I suspect due to the oil that gets on many of the documents we use.) For years, my company has offered gel pens that do not skip, but we're out. The assistant seemed distraught that the other pens weren't working for me: "But the gel pens are so expensive!"

I knew we were having financial difficulties; I hadn't thought about them as extending to office supplies. I don't want to feel like my need for a pen was the tipping point in our company's decline; her distress was almost enough to make me consider buying my own pens, as do a number of my coworkers.

I don't think I'm ready to give up that ideal. A woman's got to hold on to something during hard times, and apparently for me, that something is a ballpoint pen.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I'm with you, the boss should provide the pens, at least black, blue and maybe a red. I can understand not wanting buy a rainbow of them, but pens (that work) should be part of the business plan.