By Jeanne Reynolds
My company kicked me out of my office, but I’m not taking it personally.
They kicked everybody (who had one) out of their offices. In fact, most of us don’t even have a regular desk any more. Instead, it’s first-come, first-served for a “flex worker” seat anywhere you want. I get there early so I can snag a prime spot by the window. I plug in my laptop, adjust the monitors and chair, and I’m in business. It’s part of a new open working concept that’s supposed to enhance collaboration. (Does it? I’ll get into that another day.)
Since I don’t have a fixed location, any “stuff” I don’t bring back and forth from home every day has to fit in a 20” x 20” locker. You know, project files, my stash of snacks — and my pencils.
I love pencils. I like the way they feel and even the way they smell. I do all my writing, and nearly all my other work, on a laptop, but I still use a pencil for my calendar because it changes so much. Do I hear snickering over there about using a paper calendar? Well, next time your Outlook calendar doesn’t update properly so you miss an appointment, or your phone battery dies so you can’t check a meeting location, the laugh will be on you. Oh, and you have to scroll forever to see next month or next year, while I merely flip a few pages. Plus, I don’t like recording my personal life on my work calendar.
At home I use a pencil for my grocery list. Any fans of adult coloring out there? C’mon, please tell me you don’t use pens. It’s got to be colored pencils. And of course, golf scorecards are always marked in pencil. Golf pen? That just sounds weird.
Maybe the biggest reason I love pencils is the back-to-school memories they revive. I loved school and eagerly looked forward to the first day each year. And nothing says “school” like a new, yellow #2 pencil.
- More than 14 billion pencils are produced worldwide every year.
- About 2 billion of those are used in the U.S. (Ha! I’m not alone.)
- A million are used on the floor of the U.S. Stock Exchange every year.
- John Steinbeck wrote his novels in pencil. Supposedly he used more than 300to write his novel, “East of Eden.”
- Pencils have been around for more than 450 years — but erasers were added only about 100 years ago. Apparently teachers thought they’d encourage mistakes. Well, maybe, but not having one sure stymies creativity. (Maybe the teachers finally read John Steinbeck.)
So back to the new, modern, nearly paperless office: They got rid of all the pencil sharpeners.
Every. Single. One.
It’s probably important to mention most of the discards during this massive remodeling went to worthy causes, such as local schools and nonprofit organizations. Mountains of three-ring binders, hanging folders, file holders, paper clips … and, apparently, pencil sharpeners.
That’s left me feeling a little dull. But not for long: I’m putting a visit to the office supply store across the street on my calendar.
In pencil, of course.