The mighty pen
ack when I was in elementary school, it was a monumental event when you entered fifth grade. Say bye-bye to pencils, kids. A package of ink pens was added to our school supplies list. Prior to that grade, it was made clear by the teachers that it was pencils-only. I loved the clear plastic Bic pens and filled many a notebook with ink from that brand of pen.
Fast forward to today and the pen is still one of my best tools. Considering I usually have at least one car seat in the backseat of my car that sometimes serves as a mobile office (translate: catch-all after events), I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found at least half a dozen pens the other day, none of which were purchased by me.
Call me a pen hoarder or a pen snatcher, but I could line up a row of pens and someone can see a trail of where I’ve been.
The mark of a good hotel is the quality of their pen, and after all the writers’ conferences I’ve attended over the years, I’ve had a good number of pens follow me home from Minneapolis, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Houston, St. Louis, and other places. Marriott, Hyatt, and Choice Hotels generally carry good pens.
Strike that. The pens don’t follow me home. I take them. I can’t help it. It’s like the little old lady who brings home all the sugar packets from the restaurant. Instead, I’m not that old and I swipe pens.
Local business events are also a great source of pens. Whether an exhibitor’s table is a big corporation or a small nonprofit, I’ve had pens follow me home from those places. I can line up pens from Families in Crisis, Bill French Jewelers, the Copperas Cove Police Department (good pens), Pink Warrior Angels (pink and white), Texas Legato Winery, H-E-B, and many more.
One of the most unique pens I added to my collection was a pen from Star Group – VHV that I picked up at Relay For Life. At the top, it had a light. That pen disappeared somehow, likely dropped while I was covering another news story.
All pens are not created equal, whether they have lights on the top or they have a padded grip. Someone can spend a good bit of money on personalized pens, but at the end of the day, the best pens are the ones with good ink flow. I can pick up a pretty pen and end up putting it to the side because it either has an erratic flow of ink, or the ink flows timidly. This can be a drawback when I’m covering an event and trying to take notes quickly. Later on when I sit down to write, I want to be able to read what I’ve written clearly—my chicken-scratch aside.
My current favorite non-personalized brand of pen is the Bic Velocity 1.6 in blue. The ink flow is strong and reliable. I don’t have to wonder if the flow will skip or dry out too soon. It gets the job done.
A good pen can be like a good friend. You never know when and where you’ll find one, but when you find a good, reliable, consistent one—hang onto them. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but you’ll know if they’re a keeper when you work together on something good and you get the job done.