the pen is mightier than the (whatever):

Let's talk about pens.

Pens are obviously necessary, and I lose them all the time. So does everyone else. Mostly they fall out of my pockets, or I set them down somewhere and then forget them. Or a resident takes my pen and never gives it back*.

Occasionally, pens fall into the enterotomy bucket. And sometimes (apparently) this happens:

I'm not entirely sure how. Anyway! I've developed some rules about pens.

Alacrity's Six Rules of Pen Management and Lending:

1. Have multiple pens. The composition of a good pen-stable is outlined herein:

2. At least one should be your "good pen" - the one that always works, feels good in your hand, and never explodes in your pocket. Guard this pen closely. My good pen is a Pilot G2 Gel Ink Retractable Fine Point (0.7 mm) pen. NEVER LEND YOUR GOOD PEN TO ANYONE. Others should not know that you have a good pen. It is a mythical creature that only appears to write sympathy cards or take notes in rounds when you want them to be legible. This rule is nonnegotiable. Keep the good pen in a separate pocket if you need to. It does not leave your person.

3. Two (or more) should be "average pens" - these are acceptable, functional pens, but they are decidedly not in the league of awesome. Mine are free pens from the bank and the urgent care center. You can lend these pens to others, but only if they need it for a second and/or are highly trustworthy.

4. Lastly, have a truly shitty pen. This pen either feels really awkward in your hand or is otherwise irritating to use in some way. It should at least nominally work, because this is your first-in-line pen to lend to people who are likely to steal it. While you don't want to (in good faith) lend a high-risk candidate a totally non-functional pen, you should by all means lend out the pen that you'd most like to cull from the pen-herd.

5. When lending pens, do your best to supervise their use. Ask for them back (yes, even from the chief of service). If a repeat borrower has stolen pens in the past, they get the shitty pen (if they get lent a pen at all).

6. Do not set your pens down in public spaces. An unattended pen is a free pen!

*One of the ophtho residents is a renowned pen-stealer. My pen was gone within the first five minutes of seeing appointments on the first day of the rotation. The ophtho tech purchases a steady supply of pens particularly for this guy.