“Hey, I need to use your pen”

My attending snaps her fingers in front of my face

“Oh yeah, of course” I quickly grab my pen from my white coat pocket and place it in her impatient hands. It’s one of those big Pilot pens. I use it all the time.

She grabs a printed script, scribbles her signature, and freely tosses my pen on the keyboard. It clatters loudly.

I’m going to get that back, right?, I think to myself. Surely she’s going to remember to give it back to me at the end of the day. I’ve had that pen forever. It’s my best pen and they don’t make that model anymore.

It soon becomes more and more apparent that she forgot it’s my pen. By noon she had pocketed it in her white coat. The interesting thing was that there were other pens lying around, she would just selectively use my pen to sign off the prescriptions.

The day goes on and I start to accept the fact that I’m about to lose my favorite pen forever. Maybe I should just let it be, I think. It’s just a pen.  Patients come and go. My attending continues to use my pen to sign off prescriptions.

Hours pass and it’s now dark outside. My attending tells me to go home since the last patient cancelled.

“Okay great. I’ll see you tomorrow. By the way, can I get my pen back?”

I said it without thinking. She stares at me for a second as if trying to process what I just said. The edges of her mouth slightly curl upwards – her version of a smile.

“Of course. It’s a nice pen by the way”

I know it’s a nice pen. That’s why I wanted it back.

She hands me back my pen.

The next day, I placed my nice pen in the inside pocket of my white coat and placed some slightly less-nice decoy pens for display in the outside pocket. Amazingly, my attending needed to use one of my pens again. I handed her a decoy pen, which she used for the entire day. I thought about asking for it back when she sent me home, but didn’t want to seem like I’m some kind of pen-freak and let it go. I was still kind of sad since even though it’s not my best pen, it’s still a pretty awesome pen. I actually ended up buying a 3-pack of it after I got the first one because I liked it so much.

At the time I thought this was okay. Giving up one of my less-nice pens is not a big deal. However, my attending has asked me for a pen two other times. Essentially what has happened is that she has lost an entire 3-pack of my slightly less-nice decoy pens within a 3 week period.

Now I have to go buy a 60-pack of BIC pens to serve as decoy to my decoy pens.

At least I still have my nice Pilot pen.




  1. This is so funny…because I totally recall the same thing happening when I was a medical student. While the attending has forgotten about your precious pen… that’s all you can think about. Lol. Good times. Good luck in school! 🙂 -phoebe

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