There are no pens in your toolbox—not because you don’t need them, but because you don’t need to actively obtain them. In a world where every commodity is carefully tracked and distributed, pens are the exception, floating freely in unoccupied space. You may have a pen with you right now, but if you don’t, you could certainly find one in a couple of minutes, and no one would mind if you took it.
No other product is like this: You don’t drive your car, drop it off somewhere, and grab the next one you see lying around. Pens are rarely used start to finish by the same person. When was the last time you bought a pen, used it for a long time, and saw it through to the end of its ink supply? Or bought an actual replacement ballpoint cartridge? Never.
Look at the pen nearest you right now. Do you even know where it came from? Is it imprinted with the logo of a company you’ve never heard of?
We spend our lives drifting through an ephemeral sea of pens, using them and letting them go, like spent I overs—finding, lending, misplacing, replacing, discovering, dismantling, piling the components on our desks and playing with that little spring. If there is any evidence for creationism, it can be found in pens: They exist all around us, but no one knows from whence they came. We know only that they are good, they are here to serve us, and some people can spin them around their thumb.
-Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go To Grad School, Adam Ruben