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Fountain Pen Etiquette - how to not loan pens


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48 replies to this topic

#1 wspohn

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 14:06

I work in an office all day, signing people up on legal documents. I learned years ago that you do not hand your pen (I usually use a decent Cross ball) to a client as half the time they will pocket it, presumably as a natural motion rather than a larcenous one, and you will lose your pen.

The cheap Bics we keep in the board room disappear at an alarming rate - I was tempted to have some printed up with "This pen stolen from the offices of...."but I figured that would actually increase the rate of disappearance as everyone would want to be able to prove they'd taken advantage of a lawyer!

BTW - is Office Depot incapable of sourcing a cheap ball point that doesn't hack its ink all over the place?

Anyway, that is one situation when you don't let someone else use your pen, but I wanted to ask about another one.

What do you do when you are NOT in a professional situation, rather a social one, and someone asks if they can use your pen, and all you are carrying is a fountain pen or two? :blink:

We all know that 95% of the public haven't got a clue about how to treat a fountain pen and 90% of them will tell you that they do before grabbing it in a two-fisted death grip and doing their best to gouge their way through whatever they are trying to write on.

If you tell them it is a fountain pen the automatic response is "I know how to write with them", and then I am at a bit of a loss as to what to say next when you indicate that despite their protestations you are obstinately unwilling to allow them to touch your pen.

I've tried the old "I'd as soon loan out my pen as my wife' but that just starts them eyeing my wife (and gets me a nasty glare from her).

I have tried the "If anyone else uses it the lifetime warranty will be void, sorry" but that sounds unconvincing as well as horribly elitist.

I have tried "Sorry, out of ink" but that means you have to remember not to write with it in their presence for the rest of the night.

Has anyone come up with a soft and convincing answer to the question "Can I borrow your pen for a minute" that will not offend?

Giving in, the weak and easy way, can result in splayed nibs or the discovery that all they wanted to borrow it for was to open one can of engine oil, or..... :unsure:

Edited by wspohn, 07 July 2006 - 14:07.

Bill Spohn
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#2 Dillo

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 14:27

Hi,

I just hand it to them and give them instructions on how to use it. Most children I teach figure out how to use it automatically. If anyone does not know, I give them instructions. Don't hand them the cap, just the pen.

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Will someone with the name of "Jay" who emailed me through the email system provide me an email address? There was no email address provided, so I can't write back.

Dillon


#3 James P

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 14:41

I've never had a problem with anyone trying to pocket one of my "nice" pens - folks seem intimidated by them and their perceived price so they're almost always careful to hand it right back when they're done using it.

I also generally carry two pens in my pocket, one of which is a rOtring Core or inexpensive Lamy - they're virtually indestructible, so it won't get hurt no matter who tries to write with it! Depending on where I'm going, I may carry a Hero instead - it looks like a Parker "51" so it's more traditional to the uninitiated and they won't be insulted if I hand it to them, whereas they sometimes look askance at the unconventional appearance of the Core, as if I'm handing them a child's play thing! A Waterman Phileas is another good option to have handy.

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#4 kissing

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 14:59

I am a highschool student and pretty much 99% of my fellow students have never touched a fountain pen before. Of course I get people asking me whether they could have a try.

When I lend them for a trial, I have some cheap pens in my pocket or my pen pouch (such as a Vector) which I feel comfortable with people borrowing while giving them an experience with a nice fountain pen (i got a few of them interested in FP as a result :D). I am VERY reluctant about lending people my better pens, such as my Sonnet, but in the rare instances I do let a fellow colleague try out my better pens, I give them a thorough warning that it is pricey, sentimental and they should be VERY gentle with it (and show them the correct way to write with it if they dont know how)

The best solution to your question I could give is: Carry around a sturdy, inexpensive pen such as the Vector :)
http://www.youtube.com/kissing88

#5 Dillo

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 15:47

Hi,

On the contrary, my most lent pen is my Pelikan M425 with sterling all over the place. I believe 10 or 20 people have touched it and written with it so far. :blush: I just lend it to them like some ball point of some sort. :lol: Nothing has happened to it yet. Look at that list price--Past the price of an M1000!! :doh:

Why do I keep lending it anyway???

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Will someone with the name of "Jay" who emailed me through the email system provide me an email address? There was no email address provided, so I can't write back.

Dillon


#6 BillTheEditor

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 16:11

I keep a Parker Jotter in my cell phone pouch. There's never a time in my life that I don't have that pouch strapped to my belt, so there's never a time when the only pen I have on me is going to be the fountain pen. If someone wants to borrow a pen, I hand them that Jotter. It's my responsibility to remember to ask them (nicely) to give it back if I see them making a move to put it in their pocket or purse. :)

Edited by BillTheEditor, 07 July 2006 - 16:14.


#7 *david*

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 16:23

"I don't lend this pen." It's softer than "No", but also leaves no option for continued pestering, and does not imply anything about the person who you won't lend it to.

Or: always carry a pen you're willing to lend.

#8 Johnny Appleseed

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 16:38

I keep a few ball-points and roller-balls on my desk, and a Parker 45 flighter ballpoint in my bag - usually that is what I lend.

If I lend a fountain pen it's usually a nice firm triumph-nibbed Sheaffer, which significantly reduces the chance that it will get damaged by mishandling. I often use the comment "use it gently it's older than you are" or "older than your parents" in the case of someone young enough. That usually conveys the message, and often gets an interesting conversation going.

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#9 sonia_simone

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 16:51

I always carry a rollerball and say, "Let me lend you this one instead."

If someone presses, I like "I don't lend this pen" as a follow-up. Boundaries are good things.
Isn't sanity really a one-trick pony, anyway? I mean, all you get is one trick, rational thinking! But when you're good and crazy . . . ooh hoo hoo hoo! . . . the sky's the limit!
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#10 DWL

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:12

My response is always sure here ya go...This is how you write with it. ...

I'm not too terribly worried that it will get damaged because I know I can more than likely adjust the nib if worst comes to worst. But thankfully that's never had to happen yet.

I usually truck around with at least 1 or 2 Sheaffer School pens. I'll lend that one to them and if they comment that they like it or something similar I tell them they can keep it and let them know where to get carts. for it when the new one runs out. I get these in lots of pens I buy all of the time so I've usually got a fistful on hand. Just my little way of spreading the interest in pens.

Last year I gifted each student in my daughters 3rd grade class with a school pen and a couple of carts. They got a quick lesson on how to fill & write with them as well as how to care for them. Her teacher got a nice Hero 100 flighter and a bottle of PR Avocado that she chose from a dozen inks I brought for her to pick from. I bumped into the teacher shortly after school got out for summer break at the gas station & spotted her using the pen to sign her credit card receipt. Made me smile to know it was still being used.

Dennis

#11 Nimrud

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:15

"Oh, sure, but be careful, I just got it back from the repair shop because the last guy I lent it to misaligned its proferbulator. Cost me an arm and leg to restore it. They don't make new ones anymore you know."

#12 Mac in Alberta

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:20

You could always try Staples or Grand & Toy if you don't like Office Depot's pens.

The last time I lent a fountain pen I kept a close eye on it and snatched it back before the nitwit could write with it held sideways. I say nitwit because the person was old enough to know what a fountain pen was. I was so cautious because the previous time I had not watched, and wound up with crossed tines on the Pelikan M150 -- and that was with a person a decade or so younger.

I think the solution is a pen that's either so obviously grand as to be intimidating, or a cheap loaner. The grand pen doesn't have to be actually expensive: It just has to look it.
Sometimes a technology reaches perfection and further development is just tinkering. The fountain pen is a good example of this.

#13 wspohn

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:20

"I don't lend this pen." It's softer than "No", but also leaves no option for continued pestering, and does not imply anything about the person who you won't lend it to.

Or: always carry a pen you're willing to lend.

That's a good rejoinder - as you say, it cuts the topic off and politely prevents any discussion.

I almost always have a roillerball or ball point in my pocket as well, so most times I can offer that, but if I am at, say, a winetasting and am carrying a couple of fountain pens and no RB or BP, it can get awkward.

Which brings to mind another question I am almost afraid to ask - just how many pens do you guys usually carry in your pocket at once.......I'm a 2 or at most 3 sort of guy.
Bill Spohn
Vancouver BC
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#14 wspohn

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:32

"Oh, sure, but be careful, I just got it back from the repair shop because the last guy I lent it to misaligned its proferbulator. Cost me an arm and leg to restore it.  They don't make new ones anymore you know."

I love that approach.

I get friends with young children who come over once in awhile and the parents fail to control the kids (my parents never had much trouble with us.....).

In fact some parents are 'new age' and try and reason with the little blighters instead of disciplining them - good luck with a fractious 3 year old!

I have found that as they head for valuables in the house (we don't 'child-proof' things on the theory that any kid that sticks anything into a live electrical outlet more than once falls under the survival of the fittest rule) a comment about cost does more than running over to grab the little miscreant.

I had one father that refused to pay any attention to his child until I said "You should know that the rather delicate stereo piece your child is heading for cost $4000 - up to you if you don't mind paying for it if he wrecks it" He grabbed the kid immediately and left soon after, obviously unaccustomed and uncomfortable with the role of attentive parent.

Of course it is that sort of laissez faire parent that would respond with "He's just a baby" and see no reason why he SHOULD pay for damage caused by his kid as a result of his inattention..... :unsure:
Bill Spohn
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#15 maia

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:33

I generally have a BP with me... If not, I'll say I do not have a pen. Or I lend it (to people I know).

#16 MrsKey

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:43

I almost always have a roillerball or ball point in my pocket as well, so most times I can offer that

You know ... I won't even lend my Cross Townsend Rollerball. I did once lend it to someone, who promply dropped the cap. Leaving me with a dented cap that rattles because it knocked the tip of the cap a bit loose.

Since then if it isn't a $2.00/dozen stick pen I don't lend it out. Rollerball, ball point, fountain pen it matters not. I don't lend pens unless they're really cheap.

I've been known to say, "I won't even let my husband write with this pen, and he's the one who bought it." That usually ends the conversation.

#17 Dillo

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:55

You could always try Staples or Grand & Toy if you don't like Office Depot's pens.

The last time I lent a fountain pen I kept a close eye on it and snatched it back before the nitwit could write with it held sideways. I say nitwit because the person was old enough to know what a fountain pen was. I was so cautious because the previous time I had not watched, and wound up with crossed tines on the Pelikan M150 -- and that was with a person a decade or so younger.

I think the solution is a pen that's either so obviously grand as to be intimidating, or a cheap loaner. The grand pen doesn't have to be actually expensive: It just has to look it.

Hi,

If people hold my M425 sideways, I gently twist the pen in their hand until the nib is facing the right way. You know, we have to share the fountain pen with more people. Wouldn't you like to see more people with fountain pens?? :) Would be nice!

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Will someone with the name of "Jay" who emailed me through the email system provide me an email address? There was no email address provided, so I can't write back.

Dillon


#18 sonia_simone

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 18:13

Dillo you are a good and patient soul. :)
Isn't sanity really a one-trick pony, anyway? I mean, all you get is one trick, rational thinking! But when you're good and crazy . . . ooh hoo hoo hoo! . . . the sky's the limit!
--The Tick

#19 randyholhut

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 18:27

That's another reason why my FP/MP/BP standard carry at work is useful.

If I'm away from my desk, I can just reach for the BP if someone needs to briefly borrow a pen. Otherwise, I reach into my desk and hand them a Bic stic (which invariably disappears, but reporters are known to do that to office Bics).

I never lend my fountain pens. Even though all my pens have rigid nibs, it's safe to expect that the uninitiated will not know how to use the pen and probably mess it up.

#20 Vintage Pens Fan

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 19:24

I usually carry at least 2 pens (1 FP & 1 BP/Rollerball). But If I am caught with just the FP, & someone ask to borrow it, I'll just say "sure, but please be careful, it is leaking ink", or " sorry, the ink just went dry". 9 times out of 10 they'll change their minds & don't want to be bothered with.

I know both responses are little white lies, but I figure it will save from hurting their feelings...

David ;)






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