In a startling, but not unexpected finding, researchers from Simon Fraser University have discovered that the average Canadian burns through pens at a rate approaching 900 for every hour of the day that they are upright and mobile. And nearly 4,000 of the Houdini-like office supplies during the course of an average night’s rest.
“That was probably the most surprising discovery,” admits Dr. Parker Waterman, head of the Centre To Find Out Who The Hell Took Your Pen. “That people are able to lose that many writing utensils in their sleep.”
But the study raises more questions than answers.
“The big unknowns are still out there,” says Waterman, waiting patiently as a reporter searches for something to write with. “Why aren’t our homes and workplaces filled with discarded ball points? Where do the estimated 260 trillion pens Canadians go through annually end up? And more importantly did you take it? Did you take my pen? I had it right here. Give it back or this interview is over.”
After mollifying Dr. Waterman with a mechanical pencil (an object which has been scientifically proven to be physically impossible to lose, and may actually be self-replicating), the researcher continued.
“One of the biggest challenges we faced was, for obvious reasons, recording our data. Sure, we have tablets and computers, but the styluses for taking notes on the iPads proved as ephemeral as a normal pen, and have you ever tried to chew on a keyboard? I do not recommend it.”
The team eventually overcame this particularly brutal version of the observer’s paradox (how can you write about people losing pens when ah shit) by dictating their observations by phone to colleagues locked in windowless boxes made of polished concrete, which had been filled to eye level with the slippery stylos.
Through this groundbreaking method, Dr. Waterman and his dogged colleagues were able to disperse a number of myths surrounding the frustrating phenomenon.
“Your co-worker didn’t take it. Neither did your boss. Neither did the cleaning crew,” explains Parker, slowly and deliberately. “Your kids are innocent. The dog has an alibi. You need to face facts. You put the pen down on the desk. And it vanished through a temporal vortex that we still don’t know much about. But we believe may have been created by pen manufacturers to increase sales. It’s a lot to take in. We know. You might want to write some of this down. Oh. Yes. That sucks.”