Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Pen refills would note the changing times -- if you could find one

I had a colleague once who liked expensive pens. When I was a kid, an expensive pen was a Papermate (as opposed to a Bic). A real fancy pen was a Parker. But my late colleague favored fountain pens that probably cost as much as the computer on which you're reading this post. Can you imagine spending a thousand dollars or more on a pen?

(Although... none of his pens ever suffered a hard drive failure.)

As I grew older, graduating from this or that, I received pens as presents. The standard-issue graduation gift, back in the day, was a Cross pen and pencil set. I must have half a dozen Cross pencils hiding in the bottom of various drawers or boxes at my home, hardly ever used, even when new.

I managed to lose all the Cross pens.

All, that is, except one.

Strictly speaking, it's not a Cross pen. All things being equal, the barrels of the Cross pens were a little too thin for my taste. But this pen -- which I think my sister got for me because it was a premium giveaway at a conference she once planned -- was a little thicker. Still, it used Cross refills.

I've had this pen now for at least 20 years. Probably longer. The plastic in the pen has lost a great deal of its plasticity; it has, in other words, become brittle. Actual chunks of plastic have broken off at the top of the pen. Time flies.

And though I am, like most of you, increasingly dependent upon keyboards to communicate even the most basic thoughts, I still have occasion to use a pen. Not everything I pay (when I pay it) is paid on line; sometimes I have to write checks. I take notes with a pen, especially when I'm away from my office -- at a deposition, say. On the way home at night, if I try and reconstruct my time for the day, I'll jot my entries down on a legal pad. (I'll transcribe them into the computer later.) Eventually, even the sturdy Cross medium point black refill will run out. As my pen did, some weeks back.

For years, this posed no problem. Every decent office building in Chicago's Loop had a cigar store in the lobby. Pen refills -- especially standard ones, like Cross medium point black refills -- were readily available.

But there aren't as many cigar stores as there used to be. A lot of these are Starbucks now, or juice places. And, even when there are still cigar stores, there are few cigars to be had. And no pen refills.

The last Horders store in the Loop closed a year ago or more. Horders was a place where lawyers bought fillable legal forms and office supplies. There used to be several of these.

There is a CVS drugstore near my Undisclosed Location where I have bought some office supplies in the past. Within the past couple of weeks, however, I've noticed that there were no longer any office supplies displayed for sale. One can, however, buy beer, wine or spirits and drink to forget....


AndyK said...

Well, since you are going to be forced to buy it online, you might as well make a full technological leap and get the Cross refill offered by the Fisher Space Pen Company.

(Personally, I am partial to the brass cap-o-matic)

Dave said...

If you get desperate, I have what 90% of all lawyers have on their desks - a little piece of polished wood with my name on it and more to the problem of your post, two, count them two pens, each with a ink refill in it. I'm not sure the ink hasn't dried up; but, if not, you are welcome to the innards.