Fictional TV hero MacGyver could turn his into a parachute or an explosive device. But for the rest of us, an ordinary pen, writing just as it’s designed to, can sometimes be enough to save the day. Here are five real-life stories of when a pen made all the difference.
Field of dreams I live in England now with my family, but a few years ago I took my kids to see a Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I grew up watching the Cubs, and it was always a dream of mine to get a player to autograph a baseball – but it was my kids who actually got to do it. That year the Cubs were amazing. When the game was almost finished, I took the kids down to the visitor exit, right by where the players go out to get on the bus after the game. I gave them each a ball point pen because I’d seen collectors say that those are still the best for signing baseballs. I hung back, and my kids waited, and when the players came out, Kris Bryant actually signed their baseballs. He was just becoming a star then, and apparently really nice. My kids were over the moon – and so was I!
Kevin – Brighton, UK
It happened in Vienna The summer after I finished high school, I took a rail trip around Central Europe with a friend. She and I had both studied German at our school, and we wanted to try to use it! On the train to Vienna, we met a young Austrian student who lived in Klosterneuburg – he was asleep, sprawled out on the seats in his compartment, and we giggled so hard we woke him up! We got to talking, and he offered to show us around Vienna. Back then it was before everybody had mobile phones, so he wrote his phone number on the inside of my guidebook. A day or two later we called him up and he spent the rest of the week showing us around. He took us to lots of great places and introduced us to his friends. It may sound a bit like that film Before Sunrise, but there was no romance. We lost touch after that, but it’s still one of my favourite memories of travelling!
Sophie – Nice, France
Lost and found This isn’t about my life, but my son’s. He had this favourite sweatshirt that my husband and I brought back from a trip to the Swiss Alps. It had a Swiss chalet on it and it was cute – almost kitsch – but he wore it all the time. Apparently, it was kind of like his trademark: to his friends, he was the kid in the Switzer sweatshirt. But he’s pretty forgetful and was always leaving things at school and finding them later at the lost and found, so even into high school I would write his name on the tags inside his clothes. Then one summer he went off to a summer camp and came back without his sweatshirt. At first, he acted like it was the end of the world (although to be honest, I wasn’t too sad it was gone!). Thankfully for my son, however, some very nice man from the camp found the sweatshirt, saw his name, got in touch and eventually sent the sweatshirt back to us. My son was so relieved, but by September he decided he needed to change his style and never wore it again!
Katharina – Kiel, Germany
Saying I do Saved by the pen? Probably when I signed my marriage certificate! Showing up at the register office and signing on the dotted line with my wife was the best thing I’ve ever done (though I don’t know if she’d say the same thing about me, lol). She’s massively important to me, and she manages to be a great wife and mother, she keeps all our lives organized, and she is amazing at her job – she’s a maths teacher. I don’t even want to think about how different my life would be without her.
Balint – Budapest, Hungary
Noted This isn’t very dramatic maybe but my flatmate is really good at leaving notes for me – I think it’s a lost art! She just says what she’s doing, or what she’s cooking when she’s home (we take turns with the cooking), or other things. And she makes these funny little drawings and makes inside jokes that only we’d get. She’s got a massive commute every morning, so she gets up and goes before I do, but I often wake up curious to know if she’s left a note, and what it says. Of course, she could Whatsapp me, but that would be so boring! It’s our little thing, and her handwritten notes really brighten my day!