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Sarah Green Carmichael

It's OK to Take Pens From the Office, But Not Pasta Salad

Yes, stealing from the company cafeteria is wrong.

No free lunch?

No free lunch?

Photographer: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg

I can’t remember the last time I bought a pen. Why would I? The globe is covered with a great sloshing tide of writing implements that ebb and flow between restaurants and hotel lobbies, briefcases and bodegas. Pens trickle out of my purse into the world, and from the world back into my purse.

The exception to this “Tide of Pens” rule (not to be confused with Tide pens, which are something else entirely) is the office supply closet. As far as it’s concerned, pens only flow in one direction: out. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if office supply closets were the original source of 90% of the world’s pens.