Can I borrow a pen?

A sign of the times, I think, yesterday.

I was on a train and the carriage was reasonably well populated. But not busy.

I was listening to my iPhone and typing on the BlackBerry when a middle-aged lady walked across to me and tried to get my attention by tapping my shoulder.

I did as we all do in these circumstances, especially if you’re British. I apologised immediately. As I couldn’t hear her. I took out my headphones, stopped the iPhone. Since I’m British. I apologised again. She apologised to me.

Apologies out of the way, we got to business.

“Do you have a pen I could borrow?” She asked.

I didn’t think so thus I stalled with an, “Errrrr,” whilst I checked my jacket pockets.

“No, sorry!” I said.

She looked disappointed.

“I’m afraid I’m high-tech only today,” I said as she walked away.

She approached the guy sat opposite me, also listening to his iPhone. After the routine introductory apologies, he checked and … Apologised again. No pen.

The woman had by this stage adopted a position of limited incredulity.

She tried the woman in the next row of chairs. No pen. She tried an elderly gent tapping away on his BlackBerry. No pen!

She tried one more young guy standing by the doors with what looked like some kind of Android handset. He just gave her strange look and explained he didn’t carry pens. Almost like saying, “Sorry I don’t smoke,” when asked for a light.

As the lady was beginning to unravel (and the incredulity of ‘no pen’ grew), the train guard came into the carriage.

He had a pen.

Posted via email from MIR Live

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

18 replies on “Can I borrow a pen?”

This happens to me quite often, but that’s because I wear jeans and a hoodie. You’re always in suits, so you should just get out of your office chair right now and shove a pen inside your breast pocket. It’ll always be there when you need it!

Having destroyed a few hundred quids worth of shirt and suit with an exploding ink pen earlier on in my corporate wage-slave days I now have a strict ‘phones are for pockets, pens are for bags’ rule.

It’s one of those funny things, but I always carry a pen – and a good one at that. Nothing better than whipping out a fine fountain head 😉

Also wear a watch – bit of a novelty when someone asks for the time and you tell them with your watch, rather than your mobile…

I just didn’t have one on me that time! 😉

I’ve actually moved to a small policeman’s notebook from WH Smiths. Carry it almost everywhere!

Brilliant! A sign of the times in your case Ewan, in my case it was a lady asking if she could borrow a phone charger! On around 90% of the long distance trains in Finland there is a dual plug socket above all the “two by two” seats, with the ones in the middle of the carriage having them under the table. I was asked second and surprised the, Finnish, lady by apologising as I had my headphones in. “I am going to Rovaniemi (6 and bit hours away, the end of the line, and my stop as well), do you have a Nokia phone charger I could borrow for an hour or so?” “Ah! Yes! I do. Hang on.” Cue rummaging and out I come with my two chargers. Both not the one she wanted! Our lady was most disgusted to see that I only had those “small ones that take to long and don’t fit my phone”. Eventually after asking everyone in our carriage she wondered off muttering quite angrily having been told by one young man, quite rudely to “buy a new phone” and came back about 10 minutes later with one of those old, old Nokia chargers from the early part of this century and waved it around with quite the most triumphant air! Who did she borrow it from? Yes, as in your story, the train guard!

Me too, feel naked without one. It is actually handy sometimes, rather than rummaging to get phone from pocket. Can’t say I have a dedicated alarm clock though.

I wear a wristwatch, as well, and only recently. My wife and I went on our first SCUBA diving trip last October and I needed a diving watch. Rather than get one of those clunky Casio G-zone watches, I opted for a more classy metal one, with the rotating bezel and all. I use it periodically, but I rather like it, more as a fashion item than something I actually use to tell the time. It was a miracle to have while diving, too. 🙂

I’m also a firm believer in the poor-mans’ Bic Clic Stic pen. It’s a simple roller-ball ink pen, with a clip, but the important part is that it ‘clicks’ the point in and out. In high school I worked at a dry cleaners’ and these were indispensible as you could quickly make a note on someone’s ticket, then click the pen away to avoid marking on their clothes. I’ve stuck with them over the years – you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find them in stores, now. Have to order them online.

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