There is a strange phenomenon taking place that involves the unwanted relocation of pens. They keep disappearing from the room in which we faithful government clerks record the sending and receiving of scores of thrilling documents. Who among us has the capacity to believe that any human being can possibly keep his exhilaration leashed in this realm of wonder, excitement, and bountiful refreshments?
If my digression offends you, I am sorry. The matter at hand: At 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), I placed two pens in what I shall hereafter refer to as the “pen can." As I have described, the transmittal room is a hotbed of activity throughout the day, and pens are the weapon of choice when official business is waged. They are locked and loaded in the pen can, and are quickly lost to the battlefield -- or so it would seem. However, these pens are not useful outside of the transmittal room, as our individual stations come armed with pens, many of which have been a part of my mighty corps from its inception. Why would a loyal servant to the every whim of Uncle Sam pilfer these necessary tools in the war to achieve balanced measures, when such tools are superfluous to those our fair leaders have already provided?
By the grace of God himself, I intend to find out. This is why I placed two pens from my own arsenal in the common pen can: I want information. How much time will elapse from the 3:00 p.m. (EST) pen placement to the inevitable point in the future when the pen can is found, bereft of ammunition?
One pen writes in black, the other in blue. Which will be taken first? Will the perpetrator display a preference for one of the two colors? Should I have included a red pen -- and if so, is all lost, am I a pathetic failure who needs extensive therapy? Is my family embarrassed by me? What actually comprises me, anyway?
It's time to criticize others. Our crew consists of jelly-legged slackers, mischevious drug users, puzzled country folk, and abject depressives who exist in a sea of endless gloom. How any work gets done at all is a mystery.
The lack of work ethic and general malaise present in the workforce leads me to believe that the pens were not taken by someone who needs pens to produce anything in a business sense.
We do not ply our trade in a secure area; maybe some other federal meat puppet meandered into our domain, boldly navigated our maze of teal cublicles, and found the jackpot of pristine pens, nearly begging to be plundered by this sweat-glazed miscreant?
One of the following theories that I have formulated through exhaustive interviewing, profiling, and evidence tampering must answer the question to an objective standard. But which is it?
A member of our distinguished team, heretofore known as Whiny Smurf, is an obsessive hoarder. But why pens? Of all the items one could hoard in a bloated government office, pens seem among the least fascinating. They are ordered in bulk, so they all look similar. The ones that look different are from the early 70's, and are used to scratch indentations on documents in a series of fruitless attempts to draw ink from their post-menopausal, dry wells.
Our hoarder is a misanthrope, as many of our lot are. He or she has learned to harness this compulsive need to collect anything and instead solely target pens; pens that the rest of us, when cattle-prodded out of the caked, ass-printed residue covering our chairs, need in order to fulfill our diverse and rewarding clerical duties. Cluster bombs of annoyance are exploded throughout the day as the empty pen can flummoxes individual members of the workforce. The dastardly pen thief is satisfied, inwardly cackling, temporarily at peace. Eventually the sense of amusement dissipates and then back to a sad life of cable television and forlorn masturbation goes Whiny Smurf. Soon the cold villian is back at this vile pursuit: The cycle continues.
A cult has formed! A dread combination of paper dust, processed snacks, and ennui has caused a strain of dementia within many of the elderly and obese among our ranks, inspiring them to unite under the umbrella of a new religion. This belief system involves the use of common workplace implements in the construction of a grand altar to an obscure god who feeds on ink, blood from paper cuts, and despair. This god rewards his flock with valuable double coupons, gift certificates, and tickets for a menagerie of instant lotto games. Unfortunately, the dark-natured deity requires endless offerings of office supples and bat flesh to satiate his narcissistic desire for utter, unquestioning worship. And so the absurd altar grows, as the faithful go to reckless lengths to procure the sacred office items. Our pens disappear in a void of mindless exaltation to an uncaring god.
A potential infiltrator takes note of our bored, disinterested manner and senses an opportunity to take advantage of our apathy. His unit uses pencils: eraseable. He hasn't signed anything in ages. He's hungry. A perpetually clumsy member of our team drops a bottle of ink in a botched attempt to inhale whatever heady fumes may be present within. The scent of black gold pooling on the floor wafts into the nostrils of our intruder. He stifles a gasp and scuttles back behind the wall next to the water fountain, feeling around for his inhaler and the bag of Cheetos.
A plan is hatched. Just after our last clerk waddles toward the elevator, marking the completion of another productive shift, the shady pen-seeker will create a distraction to keep our manager from being alerted as he searches for our prized stash. The manager's coffee is spiked: hallucinogens! As her green daughter laughs at her from above and below, face squirming in a seething lake of pus and miniature demons, our manager does not notice as the bold infiltrator finds our loot. He almost absconds unfettered, but wait! One of our finest clerical experts has been sleeping for hours, awakened now by the primal screams of our tortured manager. She locks eyes with the thief, but before she can call for assistance, something about him assures her not to. He is dangerous, yes, but then again she could use a little danger. He goes to her, whispering loudly enough to be heard over her manager's desperate, psychotic bleating, and tells her of his woe.
She agrees to assist him, stashing pens whenever the opportunity presents itself. She's never felt so...alive. Her obsession with this stranger from another clerical unit intermingles with her obsession with taking pens that aren't hers; the intoxication overwhelms her. She's the quiet one, and as such has little trouble keeping her bad habits secret...for now...