If someone were to ask what I collect, I’d answer pens and paper. At least two drawers in a desk overflow with the items and I recently found piles of paper and an assortment of pens stashed in a closet. Not that I buy the materials. Once I studied on it, I realized I had not purchased pens since college and paper since last century.

Yet, I continue to accumulate them because I subscribe to the philosophy of the lead character in Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places, who considered it a waste of money to buy office products. What with them just sitting there out in the open, waiting for her sticky fingers to swipe them.

For what it’s worth, I don’t go around swiping staplers and tape dispensers. Or pens and paper. (For what it’s worth, I enjoyed Dark Places … until the end. The ending angered me to such a point that had I been reading a physical copy of the book, I feel sure I would have torn the book to pieces and flushed it down the toilet.)

I mention this because I never pass up an opportunity for free – not swiped – pens and paper. And because I considered buying a pen.

Somewhere along the way, I came into possession of a black gel ink pen. Perhaps someone left it on my desk and I “forgot” to return it. Perhaps someone handed it to me so I could make a note and I “forgot” to return it. Who knows.

Regardless of how it came into my possession, it might be the most favorite pen of my advanced life. Simply put, I love the way it writes. No, it’s not fancy. But I’m not a fancy type of gal.

Unfortunately, pens don’t last forever. What would I do when the black gel pen ran out of ink? How would I cope? To prepare for that inevitability, I located the type of pen on the Supercenter’s website. Although it was reasonably priced, it was still priced.

So, I held off on putting that item in the cart.

And the black ink in the gel pen continued to deplete.

Then, the other day, I had to run into the bank. And what did I spy on the customer’s side of the bank teller’s window? A black gel ink pen.

As noted before, I am not a thief. Thus, I asked the teller to whom the pen belonged. She regarded me as if I were a lunatic. Indeed, she probably considered pressing the button that alerts the authorities a crime is underway. She told me the pen was there when she arrived at work that morning.

That’s all I needed to hear. I slipped the pen into my purse whilst thanking the universe and the pen’s former owner for leaving it for me to find.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.