Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Ballpoint Pens and Me

Posted in Putting One Foot in Front of the Other by bourdaghs on the January 9th, 2012

The last six or seven years, I have relied exclusively on a single make of ballpoint pen: the black Super-GP, preferably size 0.5, manufactured by Pilot. Whenever I travel back to Japan, I buy up a handful. I like their grip, their ink delivery, their basic feel. The one design flaw is the cap, which after extended use tends to get loose and fall off. Everything else about it is simply perfect.

I always carry two, in case one gets lost or malfunctions. A bit compulsive, I know, but sometimes it pays off. Last Thursday night, I arrived in Seattle for the annual MLA convention and rode the Downtown Airporter shuttle bus to my hotel. A few minutes before arriving, I felt one of the ballpoints slip out of my pants pocket. A second later, I heard the sound of plastic hitting the bus floor. The shuttle was moving, though, and it was quite dark inside. I felt around the floor with my shoe and then, when we stopped in front of my hotel, swept the area with my hand, but the pen was nowhere to be found. At least I had a spare, which I used to take notes all weekend at the conference.

Last night I flew back to Chicago. After the plane landed at O’Hare and taxied for what seemed like half an hour, we finally reached the gate. I waited for the rows of passengers in front of me to disembark, then made my way down the aisle, briefcase in hand. About halfway to the exit, I spotted it: sitting on the floor of a now-deserted aisle in the economy section, a black Super-GP 0.5 ballpoint. I patted my pocket to see if perhaps my other pen had dropped out, but it was still there. I of course reached down to scoop the pen off the floor, and now I have two again.

It really is a fine ballpoint. I recommend it to you. Apparently, it even knows how to find its way home when it gets lost on the other side of the continent.

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