Seriously, where are my pens?

22 January, 2010

I buy biros.

I actually go to the shop and buy them by the handful*, in the hope that when I want to write something, one of them will still be around. Of course, the universe does not work like that. When I got back after Christmas, there were no pens in my office at all. They had all moved to the bottom of my bag. In an attempt to understand the situation, I wrote a paper on it**.

You know it's true.

Figure 1: biro field

* I am thus a biro source. Woe is me.

** Oops.



  1. You know right now i’m sitting in an office not 100 meters from a warehouse with 227,000 packs of 50 “Bic Cristal Ball Pen Clear Barrel Blue”, and thats just product code item.

    We have 230 different product brands, differnt colours, clicky tops, squigy sides, all with similar stock levels.

    I don’t know how this affects your theory but I suppose what I’m trying to say is… would you like me to get you some biros?

    • That’s a biro source alright. (You can probably tell I favour the first theory.) Somewhere out there there must be an equivalent-size biro sink; after all, all those biros must end up *somewhere*.

      Despite all this… are there any pens on your desk right now?

      • At my desk at work I had just one, cos more aren’t hard to come by if it goes missing. Here at home we have 11 in a glass handbag… do they count?

      • In a what??

      • A glass handbag. Don’t you have one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. hmm I have 3 biros on my desk right now that have been there for at least 6 months. Plus a couple of packs in a drawer that I only have because they were BOGOF and I can get through biros very fast when i’m doing lots of drawing.
    Then again in this house it’s my dad that is always complaining that his biros go walking whereas with me it’s tapes. Sellotape, masking tape, duct tape…. only the small roll of black electrical tape seems to be loyal to me.

    • A Sellotape field? I’ve only ever encountered those at Christmas.

  3. After guarding my single biro at work for 6 months I was flummoxed by the appearence of a second random biro this week. Judging by the dried splodges in the cap it’s been masquerading as a coffee stirrer. Maybe some transform into other states, I heard tales of them spontaneously combusting and turning into screwdrivers.

    • Congratulations, you have somehow engineered a biro sink right on your desk!

      And, yes, so I hear

  4. Only two days ago I was astonished to find 6 biros had congregated by the PC in the study. Why so many? YOur theory of migration is supported by the fact that there were no pens by the phone and none in the kitchen where there should always be biros. Obviously, there is something going on here.

    • Your house has some very strong biro fields; strong enough to overcome even a) labelling the biros with their intended location and b) attaching them to things with string ๐Ÿ˜ฎ And let’s not talk about the jar where the biros go to die…

  5. Hmm, intriguing. I don’t have quite the same problem since I “own” a staggering amount of pens. Partly because I own a staggering number of jackets of which to put pens in, but also because I rob them frequently.

    My problem lies with fellow “pen-magpies”, just last week I found my nice orange pen in a desk tidy on the other side of the office. It wasn’t helped by it being an interesting colour. Black and Blue pens don’t seem to move as much.

    Anyway I find it helps to hide them in handy-at-the-moment-but-easily-forgotten places in preparation for winter when ink supplies are low. Personally, I think everyone acts out this “pen-squirrel” instinct unconsciously.

  6. You have indeed provided us with two comprehensive theories for ‘the problem with pens,’ but I’m afraid neither would seem to account fully for the alarming regularity with which pens appear in my hair.

    It would seem to have something to do with the style in which I’m wearing it that day, but – and this is the most alarming bit – sometimes I start the day with my hair down (and pen-free), but half way through find that not only does it have pen(s) in it, it’s in a different style too! (Typically coiled into a bun, although sometimes a variation of a french pleat.)

    I believe more research is called for to understand the power of pens to alter their new surroundings in this manner. Incidentally, I have also noticed simliar behaviour in pencils (especially 2B). Does this mean pens and pencils are related?

    • My word! You have a biro sink in your hair!

  7. You should move house. I do this with tweezers (as I’m sure you well know what with my always having been borrowing yours).

    In my recent move I found 15 pairs.

    • Doesn’t that take rather a long time? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Fifteen? How? How?? Do you buy them or do they just turn up? I would argue that nobody needs more than one pair of tweezers, but really, nobody needs more than one black biro either, and yet…

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