Writing Utensil Seeking Strangers

Take out your pencils class, it’s time for a pop quiz: Have you ever allowed your fellow classmate to borrow a pencil and never saw it again? 


…Quite the familiar scenario, eh?
 

Whether it was in grade school or university, I was the girl who always had a pencil to lend to her classmates. Most of the time, that did not work out as a fair deal. 

Courtesy of howstuffworks.com

The earliest I remember these episodes occurring was as a third grader. At that time, my troubles were not limited to adjusting to my new pair of glasses or memorizing times tables–I was constantly preyed upon by my classmates as well. 

I always made sure I had more than enough school supplies, just in case. And to make matters worse, by that time, most children in my age group had identified me as, “That quiet girl” or had boastfully claimed, “She’s so shy!”. Thus, it was probably simple for them to get some free stuff. 

One time a peer, somehow, swiped a couple of my pencils from my desk. When I confronted her, she swore they had belonged to her. “No, these’re mine,” she insisted. To an uninformed  onlooker, it would’ve seemed that she was the good one because she was that streetwise. Too timid to involve the teacher, I attempted to fight my own battle, “Give ’em back.” Of course, I went home with two less pencils that day.

Other instances recurred so frequently throughout grade school and college, but without the childish stealing. But, trust that one factor always applied: I had given my pencils and pens, and the borrowers never returned them. 

You would’ve thought that somewhere between eighth or ninth grade that I would’ve learned my lesson, right? Not so.

While I was in a waiting area in an office yesterday, I quietly used that time to be writing on my short story. I had been concentrating and hardly noticed that a woman sat next to me. Then, the unthinkable occurred. “Can I borrow your pencil–er, do you have a pen?,” she said. To evade any discord, I quietly said, “Sure.” And, I proceeded to grab a pen out of my purse, and gave it to her. All the while I was internally giving myself the hardest time: Ugh, what’re you doing?!…you know you could’ve said no! At least she returned it, though. But, I left it on the seat.

Courtesy of quickmeme.com

I did not write this to go on about how I’ll never lend another pencil; I have gone through life without being stingy. 

The purpose is to gauge the structure of my willingness and to learn how others may be perceiving my disposition as a target for taking advantage, considering these questions: Is it that they’re honestly in need? Or, that they see someone who looks like they’re equipped?

To me, it seems fitting to state that my peers had mistaken my generosity for being a pushover. It also seems likely that strangers (like the woman in the office) had quickly assessed my mannerisms for someone who had a writing utensil. 

As much as this may be perceived as paranoia, it isn’t, but I had to address this because it has always loomed over my experiences in life. 

Chances are that I’m not the only withdrawn person who has experienced this, or this kind of scenario has reached most individuals. So, when folks don’t return your goods, do you think it’s related to your personality? Or, how much does it piss you off when someone doesn’t return your items? 



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