Amorim Ferreira

Copywriter with benefits



My office's ballpoint pen

There is a ballpoint pen in my office. Its time is split between three desks, and one could ask how is it possible for three copywriters to exist in the same space in which the worker to pen ratio is so low. A lot of the work that goes on here, obviously, takes place in a keyboard. But, when one needs to scrabble on a post-it, write a note, or even doodle during a boring call his hand tends to look instinctively for that instrument. The cap maintains its tough duty, refusing to surrender to the same fate that makes so many others vanish without explanation.
The ballpoint pen came to life in the XIX century. An effort of Humankind, bored by using quills and ink pens, that needed, urgently, to find a simpler and more effective solution to the necessity of writing. Between the first patent, placed in 1888 by John J. Loud, and the version we know nowadays a few decades were spent. Most of the simpler objects that are part of our day to day went through a long refining process.
Returning to the pen that lives in my office, sometimes it is borrowed, thrown around or even stolen. The stealing part is restricted to the days in which no one is around and therefore you assume that the object is yours for the taking. This ballpoint is not even a Cristal Bic, launched in 1950, but a functional imitation that came from a non descript office supply store. Scarcity made it the most valued commodity.
There is a mistery surrounding this object. It seems impossible to keep a second pen in here for too long. I suspect that the resident writing utensil has established some kind of monopoly. A challenger to the title may appear but he won't last that long and will, sooner or later, vanish from our space and memories. 
The design for the Cristal Bic was recognized by the Museum of Modern Art of New York and belongs to its permanent collection. Let’s take a better look at the elements of this, apparently simple, object.Its body has an hexagonal shape, saving plastic and creating three gripping points. It is transparent, which allows you to check for the ink level and a small hole keeps the same pressure inside and outside the body. The ink slides down due to gravity through a tube and coats a small sphere that rolls freely inside a bronze, nickel or silver end. The sphere, made of tungsten carbon, is vitrified by heat and is then milled by industrial diamond plate until it reaches its correct 0.1 micrometer size.
Most ballpoint users pick a side, black or blue. Each year the whole spectrum of colours available to us ends up reducing itself to the essential. Only teachers and editores seem to escape this cruel fate by adding a third color, red. Sometimes I wonder if I'll leave this job before the pen ever let's go of its post.


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