The Phantom Pen

I'm at work, at my desk, in my cubicle. I am preparing a rather grand missive (okay, okay, not really, I'm writing a bit about Esperanto - yes, that made-up language). I am just getting into my writing zone - the breathing exercises, the stretching, the zen-like calm that I pull my scathing attacks from. Okay, okay, again, not really. My whole pre-show really just involves me putting my keyboard onto my lap. It's this odd habit that I learned in college - sitting in the most non-ergonomic way possible. I find that the dull aching of every muscle and joint slowly atrophying is much more envigorating than coffee or soda. And now it's the only way that I can really write.

Regardless, I lean back in my chair to begin my poderings. As I move my keyboard, a pen rolls out from underneath.

A black Bic PaperMate pen.

Now, I try not to be snobby in anything I do - clothing, automobiles, apartments. I just get overly annoyed with people who are so surface-dwelling that they can't take you seriously if you're wearing a tee-shirt or driving the wrong car. But the one thing that I really am snobby about it my writing utensils. Yup. Pens, mechanical pencils, markers - they had better have character and panache! Who cares if they really write nicely or if my left-hand smudges up all of my writing because of them? Not me! If they look good, I don't care!

And this pen, well, a black Bic PaperMate? Damn, it's as lowbrow as they come.

Additionally, someone has chewed the end of the pen, almost to the degree that is resembles the tied off end of a balloon. The rim is flayed out from the pinched-in, slobbered-on grossly chewed epicenter of yuck. Just gross. Eeeewwww.

And then the white lettering on the side of the pen - it's all rubbed off. Yup. In fact, the whole pen has a dull sheen of someone's grubby paw. This pen has seen lots of use.

And it was under my keyboard.

The weird thing is it wasn't here on Friday when I left work. I am positive. So, in the past forty-eight hours or so someone has left this poor-excuse for a pen in my cube - and under my keyboard, no less.

You see, cubicles at work present a false sense of security. We leave photos, toys, sometimes our sunglasses, right in open display of whoever is wandering the halls after hours in the building. I can only assume that it was after hours, over the weekend or something, for I've been in my cube all day today, minus the hour I left for lunch.

What I want to know is who left this God damned pen in my cube?

I feel like calling security - but what are they going to do? "Someone was in your cube?" "Yes." "Did you see them?" "No." "Did they take anything?" "No, but they left something." "Really?" "Yes. A pen. A black Bic PaperMate." "And you sure it's not yours?" "Do I SOUND like the kind of person who'd use a black Bic PaperMate?"

Man, I don't even feel like touching it. It looks dirty, like something you'd find on the floor of a school bus. All dull and cheap looking. I want to move it, to throw it away, but it's gross. The end is all chewed, and I swear that I can smell that cheap, pungent ink from here.

It almost remind me of a calling card. Like two-face's coin or something. I mean, a pen is a fairly obvious office supply - but one I don't use, hidden underneath my keyboard? What was someone doing in my cube that required him or her to import his or her own pen and not use one of mine so prominently displayed in the carved out skull of Mr. Jar-Jar Binks (thank you Jeffy for the mug) - yet caused them to exit so hastily that they left said pen? And underneath my keyboard. It doesn't add up. That's why I feel that it was left intentionally. Like someone wanted me to know that they were there, in my cube, when I wasn't.

All of this thinking has gotten my head spinning. There are only two courses of action to take, really. One is to throw away the pen and get back to Esperanto. The other, well, involves going cube to cube investigating the pen of choice of the occupant. I bet in this building there are only a dozen or so black Bic PaperMate users - I make a list of the users and then I round down what that person has to do with me and my cube.

It's going to be a long week ...

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Last Updated on: September 10, 2001

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