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For the past quarter of a century, I have been with the same bank. It is a fine, loyal institution that has seen me through good times and bad. They were there for me with a low interest car loan when no one else would even look at the credit of a waitress struggling to make ends meet for her three kids.
More than once, they removed overdraft charges when I inadvertently made a mistake in my checkbook.
When I needed a mortgage on a house that was in such poor condition that it didn’t qualify for any other loan, they caught my vision for what it could become and I got my first mortgage.
And now that I’m a small business owner, they have guided me on everything from retirement investments to the best way to utilize Quick Books with my checking account.
Over the years, they have accumulated hundreds of documents with my signature. Each time I sign, they pull a cheap pen from a cup and say, “Sign here. You can keep the pen.”
Every time I reply, “These are the crappiest pens ever, but because we’ve been together so long, I’m going to take it.”
I have a thing about ink pens. As a writer, when I find one with a solid barrel and smoothly dispelling ink, I feel a twinge of joy that washes over my entire being like hot fudge poured slowly over a scoop of ice cream. It’s deeply satisfying and oh so delicious.
I bring the bank pens home and add them to the collection of chintzy pens I keep on hand for my children. Or I store it in my purse as a back up to use when the kids have gotten fed up with the cheap pens and resort to snatching my good ones.
Whenever I see a sleek, shiny pen with another bank’s logo, I turn my head so as not to be lead into temptation. I will not allow my loyalty to be tested even if another bank offers a choice of ink colors and a deep resonating click rather than the pinging shallow click of my bank’s pens.
I was sitting at lunch with my best friend when she pulled a pen from her purse.
“I got this at the bank. Isn’t it beautiful?” she exclaimed. “It has curves in all the right places, and it never skips when I’m writing.”
“Get thee behind me, Satan,” I cried. “I will stay true to my bank in spite of their skinny stick pens that make it look like I can’t spell my own name because the ink skips on every other letter.”
This morning, my loyalty paid off. The banker pushed a stack of papers toward me and motioned to the cup on the corner of his desk. I grimaced, but then something caught my eye.
I pulled the pen from under his notebook and held it in my hand, admiring the curves and feeling delight in how it was properly weighted. I closed my eyes and clicked. The sound was deep and resonating. It rolled across my palm and there I saw it; the bank’s logo emblazoned across the shiny blue barrel.
My voice was husky, “I’m going to need to keep this pen.”
“That’s fine,” the banker replied. “I know you’ve waited a very long time.”