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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Got in a minor accident. No one was hurt, don’t worry. Long story short, both parties maintain that they had the green light and that the other was at fault. No injuries, minor detailing damage to both cars. The old man driving the other car had a temper and I welcomed the thought of a police officer setting things to right.

I borrowed a pen from the older couple in the other vehicle to write down the Round Lake PD phone number, tucked it behind my ear and forgot about it. A half hour later, I found myself sitting in my car twirling it between my fingers, waiting for the officer to fill out his report. It was just another anonymous pen until the old lady called to me from the other car asking for it back. Not wanting to leave my car until I was instructed to, I promised to get it back to her as soon as I could.

Here’s what struck me about the entire episode. She asked for a cheap ballpoint back. After an accident on a wet road and after her husband lost his calm to a police officer she asks a person—who though calm is obviously not an ally—for this worthless object back. Looking down, I found not the disposable utility I thought was in my hand but a well-used personal item that held value in this lady’s world. I saw the oil-bound dirt on the grip that told of long use. I saw the polished rubber and plastic body that gave testament to long months in the pounding, refining surf that is the bottom of a purse. I held something that against all odds and conventions was tied to another person, a person who in my mind was implicated in the recent endangering of my life.

I gave it to the officer and asked him to return it for me. As many blurred memories of signed checks and scrawled to-do lists it may hold for her it was just another pen to me.