The Airport Pen Saga

So I’m at the Montreal International Airport and I’m mentally tired. I’m experiencing some brain fog, and I don’t yet know that I am hypothyroid with a TSH level of 9. I’m anxious, not knowing why I’m feeling like this. I don’t want to deal with the electronic baggage claim machine. I’d like a real person to ticket me and take my luggage. After walking around in search of the correct counter, I snake my way through the rope lines and finally land at the Air Canada desk to check my bag and get my boarding pass. But I need a luggage tag– you know, the ones you attach with your name, address, and phone number, in case they lose your bag. A basket of blank tags rests on the countertop, but no pens or pencils are to be found.

“Do you have a pen I could use?” I ask the Air Canada representative.

“No, I can’t give you my pen because if I gave it to everyone, I would get germs on it and I would catch a cold,” she says.

Alright, keep in mind I’m mentally exhausted and I ask myself, did she just say that? Really, she won’t lend me her pen because of germs? So I ask her if there is another pen I could use to fill out my luggage tag, and she tells me that I should travel with a pen.

“Do you have a pen that I can use?” I ask again, with a calm demeanor.

She goes to search for a pen, way at the end of the check-in counters, and finally returns with one, and kind of slams it down on the countertop in front of me. She didn’t slam it full force but enough to be classified as a slam not a put.

“Did you just slam the pen down on the counter?” I ask. [It was definitely a slam]

“No, I placed it down.”

“I’m not having a good mental day,” I say. “Can I make a suggestion, as a customer? Maybe you should have some pens or pencils here next to the tags.”

“If Air Canada puts pens and pencils there, people will take off with them and the company will lose money.”

Now I’m thinking, what, are you kidding me? They could even have pens chained to the counter like at the bank or ones with big flowers on the end.

“With all the money Air Canada makes charging $25 a bag, I’m sure it can afford some pencils and erasers,” I answer.

“You should travel with a pen,” she says again.

“I’ll remember to do that if I come back to Canada. I’ve been to airports in the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, and they all have pens. I think even Zimbabwe has pens!” I answer. I look to my left and a young woman, another customer, smiles at me—I can only imagine she found the exchange as hilarious as I would have if I hadn’t been tired and anxious.

I take my boarding pass, turn, and go on my way.

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