Prehistoric communication tools


Nobody's doing much writing these days. I mean the actual physical thing of writing, not word display stuff. I'm talking about the pen or pencil on paper kinda thing.


It seems that once a young person reaches the stroller age, he or she starts engaging in the texting and twittering world of communication. Spelling is of no value either. The text content merely requires one to be able to key in grunts, growls and letters that serve as abbreviations. Apparently learning the alphabet is about as far as one needs to go to be able to perform basic communication these days. A thumb and a grunt is all you need.


Next week Apple is bringing out a new app that will have an iPad built into diapers.


What brought this whole thing home to moi was the fact that I found myself on an easygoing assignment that required a little note taking. I definitely didn't need a recorder, I just needed the traditional pen and paper. I always carry a pocket notebook, but alas and alack, I found myself penless and still needing to record what people were saying without the benefit of electronic devices.


A scurried back to my rusty truck, knowing I had a couple of pens hibernating in the glove compartment for just such an emergency. One was dry the other scratchy and blotty. I used scratchy and blotty.


When I returned home I fielded a phone call that required note taking. The pen that the bride had left in the holder next to the phone turned out to be the son of scratchy and blotchy and the barrel was sticky and gooey.


Four seconds after transcribing, the original scratchy and blotchy and the spawn, scratchy, blotchy, sticky and gooey, they went directly into the bin where rotten pens go to die unnatural deaths.


I am back to normal now. Two good pens in the pocket, four more within easy reach. Pens are such easy tools these days, one has a tendency to forget how vital they can be, sorta like electricity and water. We doesn't appreciate them until we can't have them.


One visitor to a Third World country informed me a couple of years ago that she used pens instead of coins as a means of leaving a tip at the wayward restaurants she visited en route from one village to another and she was thanked profusely by the servers who had been making do with pencil stubs to record the orders. The kids in the outlying schools fought over the pencils that were being distributed. You see there is still a good portion of the world out there that don't have access to Blackberries on an hourly basis.


I still have a bottle of ink sitting on my desk at home a remembrance of another era long past when things called fountain pens were still being used. A person who owned a fine Parker or Sheaffer pen with a neat nib and easy filling barrel was to be envied. A nice fountain pen with a steady ink flow was as prized as a diamond dinner ring or a great set of cufflinks. It was the sign of finesse.


I guess that translates now into the person who owns the latest iPad or multi-purpose cellphone/camera/recorder/texting technological wizardry device. A certain pride of ownership of what you know is the best to be found in that certain genre of communications.


As for ownself, well, I just can't help but keep thinking about those kids who were overjoyed at being able to print an image on a piece of paper with a pencil, and the waiter who gladly accepted a give-away ballpoint pen in lieu of a 15 per cent gratuity on a meal. Pens were hard to come by in his reality, as was water and electricity. Money wasn't everything. He needed something practical and it was the pen, damn it, not a text messenger.

Sometimes little things, including small gestures of assistance, mean a lot.
If anyone would like to donate a Blackberry or similar communication device to the author he may be reached at normpark@estevanmercury.ca Keep in mind he currently has 34 pens and four pencils, all in working condition and none in need of a new contract with a cellphone provider.

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