The Old Man and the Pens

Jonathan Carroll
2 min readJul 2, 2021

I like the fact there are people we only brush briefly by in life but who now and then pop up in our thoughts for no particular reason and make us smile or even grimace at our memories of them.

Years ago there was a store in Vienna that sold pens. Cheap ones to the very best. I went there often because I write everything first by hand and have loved fountain pens all my life. Going to this store was a treat, especially so because of one salesman in particular who I sought out whenever I went there. Very much the gentleman, impeccably dressed in jacket and tie although the other salespeople were more casual both in dress and demeanor. This man was clearly old school and I’m sure that put some customers off because he was also sort of pretentious in his expertise.

To me that was part of his allure. He seemed to know everything about pens and had no hesitation telling you not to buy even a very expensive one if it didn’t meet his standards. But his real passion for the subject shone through the snobbery and in his way, he was willing to share it with you whether you bought something or not. The establishment closed more than a decade ago. But passing the building this morning for the first time in a while, good memories of the old store and the salesman tsunami’d across my mind. He was not young when I knew him so I wondered if he is still around. I wished there was some cosmic way I could contact him these many years later and thank him for being exactly who he was.