The Pen

By Robbie Knopf

The minor details. They seem so inconsequential as we move hastily through this journey we call “life.” But we look back and we realize just how important these seemingly peripheral events were. One small action can trigger an entire series of events that can change a lifetime. You never know what one second, one snap decision, could do.

It was the perfect weekend. Most of my high school class was taking the March SAT’s so I was given an off-day Friday. My dad and I weren’t going to let this opportunity slip by. For the first time, we were going to fly from New Jersey down to Florida for spring training.

We pack up our stuff on Thursday afternoon for our flight late that night. We go through what we packed multiple times- we forgot basically nothing. What did we forget? A pen.

It was a vacation, albeit a short one. My dad was taking a couple days off of work and I was missing a day of school so we could head to three Tampa Bay Rays spring training games in three days. Work and school was the last possible thing in our minds. At the forefront was baseball and only baseball. My dad never travels anywhere without two things: his Blackberry and a pen (or three). But he was on vacation- he only brought his Blackberry.

We arrive at the airport smiling unremittingly on Thursday night. We get through security and we’re lounging around. I talk with the man behind the counter at one of the stores about the Rays for 10 minutes (he was a Mets fan) while my dad shops. But out of nowhere, my dad’s expression changes. He asks me whether I have a pen. I say no and ask him why. We go to one of news stores and here’s how my dad’s conversation with the woman behind the counter went:

“Do you have any pens?”

“You need to borrow a pen?”

“No. Do you have any pens I can buy?”


I actually find the pens before the women remembered where they were. But they weren’t ballpoint. My dad says that they’re not good. He finally explains what’a going on- if a player signed on a ball with a gel pen, the autograph would smudge. He asks the women whether she has any other pens. At this point, she clearly thinks we’re completely nuts and she gets rid of us by pointing in a random direction in the store where evidentially there weren’t any pens. We leave distraughtly- although admittedly we were a bit more disappointed when it turned out that our flight down to Ft. Myers, FL was delayed.

We land in Ft. Myers at 12:30 AM and head over to the car rental place, where a rental company that will remain unnamed told us that they had no cars remaining and asks if we would take a 9-passenger van. After we started walking towards another rental company, they finally offered us an SUV at the sedan price. That worked out pretty well. We went in our rental car to the friend’s house we were staying at in Ft. Myers. We arrive, we unpack, and then immediately we start tearing the house apart (neatly) scavenging for a pen. Unbelievably, we search for 20 minutes, no pens. We then collapse of exhaustion at 2:00 AM.

We wake up at 9:00 and get ready to leave for Port Charlotte, where the Rays will host the Orioles for spring training. We’re moments away from leaving, but we stop. We decide to look one final time for a pen. Somehow I end up in a cupboard. I start staring into space not expecting to find what I was looking for, but I see something shining in a basket. In the basket is a single blue pen.