Thursday, November 01, 2007


A coworker and I were at my desk discussing a project we needed to complete, and he was struggling to describe a programming structure so he picked up a piece of paper, and searched for a pen. I handed him one of the Pilot Precise v7 pens I have on my desk.

He picked it up, stared at the blank paper, twirled the pen in his hand, and in one smooth motion flipped the pen around, pushed the tip of his forefinger under the straight metal clip on the pen top, and bent it outward at a 15 degree angle. He then pulled the pen back into a writing grip and started drawing the structure he had in mind.

I couldn't focus on what he was writing or what he was saying because I was focused on the acute 15 degree angle on my previously parallel pen.

Coworker: "We can figure the bitmasks by processing with an N factorial. Wow, that's the first time I've had to use that in years. What do you think?"
Me: "I think it took you less than three seconds to bend my pen clip."
Coworker: "What? Oh."
He bends the end of the clip back to within a few millimeters of the pen cap body, but the length of the clip remains slightly bowed.
Coworker: "There, it's fixed. Now how do you want to handle the processing for letters that have multiple permutations? I was thinking if we just wrote another hash for just the letter with the multiple possibilities, we could cheat and just process it again with the different hash."
Me, looking at the pen: "... It's not the same..."

I got over it and my mind returned to the task at hand, but as I write this I'm remembering many instances of trying to return bent pen clips to their original state all the way back to middle school.

Clearly this is my OCD.

UPDATE As we continued working, during lulls in the writing, my coworker would trace over his letters and numbers until they became illegible. I hate that.


blogagog said...

The man did you a a dual favor. First, by bending the clip out of shape, he made it so you really couldn't keep it in your shirt pocket with any hope of keeping it there.

Second, he made you think about putting a pocket protector in your pocket and clipping the pen to that, since they are kind of thick, and it probably would still hold. But that made you realize how geeky and unprofessional those things are, and that made you re-realize your goals at the company, toughen up, and get the job done, weak clip or not.

He gave you new drive. New incentive. A new reason to live. Someone should write a play about him!

UPDATE: He also kept your shirt clean. A triple favor, in a single move. The man is like a God!

DirtCrashr said...

The man should have been killed on the spot, one does not fool with another man's pen.