Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Broken pen theories.

Why don't people throw out ballpoint pens that no longer work?

You want to shout at these people. It doesn't work! Throw it out!

I was in an office recently and, of nine ballpoint pens sitting in one of those plastic pen caddies given out by print suppliers or pharmaceutical companies, six didn't work*.

I've been thinking about this and I have several theories why the pens never get thrown out and end up back in the drawer.

Theory 1

A ballpoint pen that has run out of ink doesn't look broken - and people only throw out things that look broken.

Theory 2

They are not sure whether the pen has run out of ink. They think it might be that the paper is waxy. The pen gets the benefit of the doubt.

Theory 3

My most compelling theory: people are lazy and the waste bin is too far away. Straight back in the drawer.


There's a thesis in this. Maybe a book.

Where's my pen?


*I put them back. It was not my office. It wasn't my job to throw them out. (That introduces another theory: that pens are ownerless, like cats.)

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