August 13, 2008

Where Pens Go To Die

A reader emails:
Today I opened my desk drawer and saw over 50 pens I probably will never use again...(and this is only at my office desk, not including home)... Where do unlucky pens go to die? I can't seem to get rid of them because the day I try to throw it away or give it to the school supplies drive, I find a newfound respect for it but then it goes back into the black hole of pens that haven't made the cut.

Have you written any posts about this?
I have never written a post about this, but I think I did mention something in a long lost comments thread on what I do with pens I don't like or never plan on using again.  In a nutshell, I play Pen Fairy at the office.

I work with and around a bunch of computer geeks.  Heck, I'm one of them myself.  Except I'm the one in the pink gingham button-down as opposed to a black or grey t-shirt.  Not there is anything wrong with that, but it's just not my style.  So you can imagine their choice in writing instruments: generic office supply cabinet rollerball, Marriott Courtyard Bic Stic, chewed up eraserless #2 pencil, capless dried-up Sharpie, etc.

From time to time I purge my pen collection, getting rid of the ones I no longer use or plan on using to make room for new ones.  I do this at home to keep the wife happy, and at work to keep myself sane because I don't have a lot of room to spare.  This usually results in 20-30 pens probably twice a year or so.

The Pen Fairy kicks in from there, leaving some out in the open on a communal office table, and otherwise dispersing some of the better rejects on a few select co-workers desks.  Only once during this time have I overheard someone say "Where did this pen come from"?  I just grinned a bit and kept quiet.  Most of the time I see the pens scattered about, caps missing, or hanging from peoples mouths.  Oh well, hopefully they enjoyed the pens for a minute or two.

I received another email just yesterday from The Pen Guy, who has a Mercedes covered with thousands of pens, so donating them is certainly an option.

What do you do with your extra pens?


Strikethru said...

I hoard all mine on the theory that I will eventually use them all again at some point. This is an acceptable strategy with pens, but it isn't working so well with the typewriters.

FelipĆ£o G said...

Mine just go to a drawer and then stored somewhere. About 150 pens are in my aunt's house stored and some other 150 are here. I'm starting a new collection next week

BSR said...

Take them to an office supply store. This time of year, they have bins for donating school-supplies to kids that can't afford to buy new stuff. I bet they get used better than giving them to your co-workers!

Annee Mae said...

I like to play pen fairy at the office,too, but it is hard to remain annoymous when there is only two of us. AND we both know who the pen addict it. Every year at school time my best mate and I go to all the store gathering up the cheap supplies and donate them to our local school system. I usually throw in a special box just for the teachers with the really nice pens (some castaways, some new) and supplies.

Lily said...

hey brad, being a Pen Fairy is a really interesting idea. last year we made kits to send to Africa with World Vision and each kit included a pen. After some searching online, I found this organization that sends specifically pens to Africa I don't know much about them but the concept is good. I wish there was an easy way to gather all the lost pens of the world and send them to a place where there is need!

dowdyism said...

Lily - that looks outstanding! I am going to contact them to find out more information.

No one important said...

I work in a library, and we put our old/unloved pens (and all the ones we get at conferences) at the reference desk for patrons to "borrow". It's no big deal that they don't always return them, and we haven't had to buy even cheap stic pens for the desk in over a year!