How to Use a Ballpoint Pen
(Recorded off WOR Radio, circa 1976)

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BOB:  And welcome again to Widen Your Horizons, the segment of the show where we guide you to a fuller, happier life, through acquiring new skills.  Today our vital subject is, how to use a ballpoint pen, and to offer his expertise is Mr. Wilbur Purvey of the Long Life Ballpoint Corporation.  (theme music out) First Mr. Purvey, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to deliver our guest lecture today, and on such a day.

PURVEY (Ray):  Well, I really consider it to be my patriotic duty, Mr. Elliot.  Our American way of life is being seriously threatened because so many documents are still being written in smudgy pencil.

BOB:  I suppose that's a direct result of the public's inability to use ballpoint pens, is it?

PURVEY:  For the most part, yes.  However, there's also the problem of the cheap ballpoint that runs dry quickly.  Forces the discouraged beginner to revert back to the pencil.

BOB:  I know your company is doing all it can to put out more dependable pens that the public can have confidence in.

PURVEY:  Well, that's quite true.  Now, our new Long Life model retails for about $75, which seems rather high.....

BOB:  Yes.

PURVEY:  But each pen is absolutely guaranteed to function for at least 20 years.

BOB:  Twenty years, that's an amazing guarantee.  And I'm sure many of our listeners would gladly invest $75 in one of your pens if they had any idea how to use it.  So why don't you just go ahead with your instructional talk for beginners.

PURVEY:  All right, now I have one of our Model 18's right here in my briefcase.  So I'll just lift it out together with the accessories that are needed.

BOB:  I notice you're lifting the pen out very carefully with both hands, Mr. Purvey.  Is the mechanism so delicate it has to be handled that way, or what?

PURVEY:  No, it's quite sturdy and durable.  I just used both hands because the cast iron construction makes it kinda heavy.  But once you get it up in the writing position between your thumb and forefinger, it can be supported with one hand after a little practice.

BOB:  That's good to know.  I don't believe I've ever seen a ballpoint pen made out of cast iron before.

PURVEY:  Well, we tried making a few out of plastic, but every one of them wore out before the 20 year guarantee expired.  So, switching to cast iron was all we could do to avoid bankruptcy.

BOB:  Well, that's good thinking.  I notice you're getting a plumber's wrench out of your briefcase there, too.  Does that have anything to do with using the pen?

PURVEY:  Indeed it does.  You see, the pen point is retractable.  So of course, you have to loosen this big bolt here at the top of the barrel to lower it into writing position.

BOB:  Well, couldn't you just put one of those little buttons on top, like most pens have?  You know, the kind you just press with your thumb to make the point go up or down.

PURVEY:  Oh, of course not.  You can't have a piece of junk like that on a pen that's guaranteed for 20 years.  You know, our retraction bolt is made of tempered Swedish steel.

BOB:  Hmm.

PURVEY:  Believe me, it's made to last.

BOB:  Well, all right.  Now, you've loosened the bolt to lower the penpoint, so now you're ready to demonstrate writing, I guess.

PURVEY:  No, now wait, you're getting ahead of me here.  No, I haven't even attached the ink cartridge to the pen with the tubing yet.  Obviously you can't write without an ink supply.

BOB:  I guess I just assumed that the ink cartridge was inside the barrel of the pen.

PURVEY:  Oh, that wouldn't be practical.  The pen is one piece of solid cast iron.  Now, if the ink was inside, you'd have to buy a whole new pen every time it ran dry.

BOB:  Well, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was all in one piece.  I thought, you know, probably it unscrewed in the middle someplace.

PURVEY:  Look fella, we've tried all these nutty ideas you're suggesting, and they just don't work.  Believe me.  So, let me continue here.  I have the tubing from the ink cartridge attached to the convenient nozzle on the barrel of the pen here.  So, the next step is to work the plunger on this little hand pump, for about 20 minutes.  That creates the suction to pull the ink into the pen.

BOB:  You mean you have to pump that thing for 20 minutes before you can start to write?

PURVEY:  Approximately.  Maybe 15 if you pump hard.  Why?

BOB:  Well, we just can't allow that much time for the demonstration.  Maybe you could come back on some other occasion when you have everything set up to go in advance.

PURVEY:  You can't do any of this in advance.  The pen would leak all over the inside of my briefcase if I carried it around already hooked up.

BOB:  Okay, well then don't come back on another occasion, just forget all about it.  I hope all you listeners will join us again soon when we'll have another opportunity to learn a new skill (theme music up) on our next fascinating session of Widen Your Horizons.

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