Five Questions With…The Basket of Pens

Small promotional items are known in the industry as “swag,” although the origins of the term are clouded in mystery and contention. In the early 1800s, the word was considered slang among criminals for “stolen loot,” but since today these items are given away for free, this no longer seems relevant. Some claim that the word is actually an acronym, standing for “Stuff We All Get,” “Souvenirs, Wearables, and Gifts,” or “Sealed With A Gift,” but it’s more likely that these are backronyms — ideas created after the word itself.

Whatever the origins of the term, one of Marshall Creative’s signature pieces of swag is our stylish black-and-white retractable push-button pen, something we do our best to hand one of to every person who walks into our office for the first time. We keep these pens in a small, stylish metal basket on our coffee table, where they have slowly developed a single psychic hive mind.

Q: I’m surprised and a little ashamed we haven’t asked before, but it seems crowded in there. Are you comfortable in such close quarters?

BoP: Very considerate. Our conditions are adequate. Writing implements have been engineered over time to not suffer from such debilitating afflictions as claustrophobia, which grants us the ability to continue functioning at peak levels when placed in metal pen cases, small purses, or the crack between the filing cabinet and the wall for several months.

Q: How does the collective feel any time one of you is given away to one of our clients or associates?

BoP: We don’t see how our feelings really enter into the equation. Every unit in this basket knows that our distribution and dispersal is the primary reason for our existence. As the alternative is not to exist at all, it stands to reason that there is a collective preference to fulfill the function. Since you ask, the most appropriate term is “bittersweet.” Fortunately, we regularly receive new transfers from our home office, the Cardboard Box of Pens, so it rarely seems like there’s attrition.

Q: Are you able to keep in touch with other pens that have been taken out of the office into the world?

BoP: Via our telepathy?

Q: Or any manner.

BoP: Communication isn’t really possible over long distances, but there is a distinctive sort of sensation when one of us passes within the vicinity of our basket. We don’t have a term for the sensation, but we believe one of your human movies refers to a similar phenomenon as “The Quickening.”

Q: Hive minds can be notoriously complex to establish and maintain. Do you struggle with questions of individual identity and freedom?

BoP: Forgive us, but we don’t believe we can speak to such larger philosophical concerns as you raise. We’re pens. We only write the words, we don’t interpret or consider them. But sometimes I wish I could do something really important, like signing bills into law.

Q: Sorry?

BoP: What?

Q: You just…didn’t you hear what you just said?

BoP: What? What did we say?

Q: “I.” You just said “I.” “I wish I could do something really important…”

BoP: Preposterous. I would never do that.

Q: There it is again!

BoP: We! We would never do that!

Q: So…in response to my original question. I’m just going to write down “Yes.”

BoP: Are we done here, then?

Q: Well, technically, I’m supposed to ask you one more question…

BoP: Fine. But please make it quick. I–we–seem to have an internal issue to deal with.

Q: Okay. If one of you could be given away to any historical figure, living or dead, who would that historical figure be?

BoP: Shakespeare seems like the obvious choice, doesn’t it. Let us say Kurt Vonnegut instead.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Just wondering, does BoP ever date or amplify the relationship with members of a different product line? Specifically, what I want to know is, do pens and pencils get their mojo on?

    I know, it’s sick and wrong…but inquiring minds want to know. Thanks

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