Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Highland Park, one foggy, yet paradoxically sunny, day.
On the 21st of February this year, I got off the bus (at the stop pictured above) and found a pen.

It was a biro, just lying there on the pavement by the bus stop, as though it had been left there deliberately for me to find. I picked it up. It had “PAKURANGA COLLEGE” written on the side, and wrote in red, just as teachers traditionally do. So I took it with me to the school where I work.

That afternoon, another teacher was running late, so I dropped into his class to chat in English to his only student until he arrived.

The student’s name was Elynn, and as I fished for conversation material, she told me that she was also attending Pakuranga College. Ah! I instantly weilded the biro that was already in my hand at her! Once her real teacher had arrived, I headed off, and wondered whether on some Goddish level the pen actually had been left at the bus stop for me to find.

As the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, that pen became my best friend. At last I could mark work in red. Fairly soon I started filling-out my lesson plans in red too, and my timesheets. My new pen and I were inseperable. We went everywhere together.

Me, Weird Al and my pen
On March 10th, my pen and I went to see “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert together, and afterwards Al met us and signed his autograph for me, using my favourite pen.

But I was aware that I was developing a dangerous emotional attachment to my biro. Deep inside, I knew that one day, sooner or later, and who knows the reason why, all pens must ultimately leave their fellow stationary behind, and quietly strike out on their own for adventures new. Still, now was not the time to dwell on such world-shaking inevitability.

When I got a new contract at the school the following term, sure enough I signed it in exactly the same red. Scribbling notes at church, signing cards, and beavering away during planning meetings.

Me, my Elementary English class, and my pen
Yesterday for example we were taking some Elementary English class photos, and as ever I had my beloved red biro behind my right ear. Afterwards as usual I wrote up my lesson plan and timesheet, and headed out to Countdown buy some lunch.

Arriving back, my pen didn’t seem to be in either pocket of my rucksack. I ignored this, and pressed on with my afternoon class. There was a knock on the door – it was Elynn. She had come to say goodbye as she was preparing to return to China tomorrow.

After class, I retraced my footsteps, but to no avail. It wasn’t in my morning classroom, my afternoon classroom, or the staffroom. Or the corridor, or the kitchen, or the toilet. I rummaged through my rucksack again. I followed my exact steps across the car park and into Countdown. And then finally, like a defeated destroyed man in denial, I desperately returned to the bus stop whence I had first found it three months ago, as though by some impossible allignment of consequence it might be back there again.

It wasn’t.

Me and my pen
This is what my biro looked like when I last saw it. It may have aged a little since then. If you find it, please give me a call, even if only to tell me that it is safe. I know it has other tasks to write for someone new now, but it’s the waiting, the not-knowing that silently kills me inside.
(93 days)


2 comment(s):

At 3:14 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um... There's just one more thing, Mister Goble, before I go. That blood-like red stain on your jacket there, I noticed it earlier... That looks like red ink that someone has tried to remove with the assistance of washing up liquid.

I put it to you that YOU killed this red pen and dumped its empty shell in Highland Park.

- Columbo.

At 3:34 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

That’s right – that’s an old stain caused by a pair of red socks that once ran in the same washload. Boy, I sure have tried to get that stain out with washing-up liquid so many times now. In fact, here’s a photograph of me wearing this exact same shirt with the exact same red stain on it in 1975. You’ll notice that in the picture I’m reading a newspaper with the headline “WE WIN” – a reference to the New York Yankees’ big win against the Boston Red Socks the previous day in 1975.

Be seeing you.


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