As I was driving past the campus of the Tennessee yesterday I noticed their electronic bulletin board had a picture “congratulating grads”. And I thought about how it was too early to be doing so. We are barely into May. But evidently that is the way of things now.
When I went through college all of my graduations were early in June. Not sure if there are such any more. June used to be the month of brides and grads.
And then this morning I got an advertising eMail from a vendor that sells leather goods and pens and their own take on notebooks. It was decorated with this picture:
I don’t want to detract from their product. They make quite good pens and charge a fair price for them. I used to buy their bound notebooks but quit when they discontinued them. I don’t blame them; they didn’t fit with the line. And they have good leather.
But my thoughts were about writing instruments and graduation presents. I myself never received a pen or pencil as a graduation present. The best graduation present I ever got was a K&E Log-Log Decitrig slide rule. Which is totally irrelevant to today.
But I have known people who got pens or pencils as graduation presents. I have given a few, but only to people I knew well. That’s because of the former.
Of all the people I have known who got a pen (usually) as a graduation present, only a few, less than 0.05, used the pen for any period of time. For some reason I don;t quite understand, there is a mismatch, which I suspect, but can’t test, is due to the giver not knowning the recipient well enough.
Anyway, a grad gets a nice pen as a gift. And they are all nice pens. Well made. Attractive. Because that’s what the message is supposed to be, a writing instrument for the ages. Something to use for fifty years and then be buried with.
But it almost never happens. What does happen is one of two things. The most common is that the person gifted lacks the patience and persistence of a good pen. He/she prefers something akin to the BIC Stick, or some other mass produced office pen. They keep the gift pen but it ends up, in its original box, is a closet or trunk somewhere. The less common is that the person has the patience and persistence of a good pen and finds that there is something about that gift pen that isn’t right. Most commonly this is that the gift pen is a ball point and the recipient finds can’t stand the skip of a ball point. So they upgrade themselves to a roller ball or a fountain pen. And the gift pen, slightly used, gets relegated to a closet or trunk.
I am not sure whether these people are fortunate or not. I never got a pen as a graduation gift, but I found out about good pens. Mostly from wanting to, first, take good notes, and then, write good manuscripts. But for a lot of people this gift is their introduction and I think – mostly – it’s a good thing. Because it leads those people to find out something about themselves. And material things seldom do that, I have found.