6-year-olds across the country use this item, sometimes for the first time, learning the ropes of spelling on reused, reprinted, and reshared spelling worksheets from the time their parents were the same age. A 75-year-old man, well versed in spelling from his primary school days may use it as well, possibly to jot what groceries are necessary for the week ahead. Someone, maybe even in the same house, is using this in their office to slowly but surely create layers, intricate shading, and depth on a picture of a cityscape they have been working on for weeks. And at the same time, someone is also using the exact same thing to draw mindless, inappropriate sketches in their math textbook in hopes the clock moves a little further when they glance upwards.
We get the picture. This item, the pencil, is a universal tool familiar to the majority of the population. While we have grown into a technical era where most writing is done online, the pencil is still a staple of life and education everywhere. But what about when we start to draw outside of the lines? For me personally, I have found myself picking up a pencil with no writing to be done. Time after time, I have needed the fine point of a pencil to reach the unnecessarily small reset button on my calculator. Before high-tech TI-84 calculators, middle school me had skimped on a cheap one that had a mind of its own. Constantly, the calculator would be unresponsive to the push of the on button, prompting me to reach for a fine point to fit the hole of the reset button. Thankfully a pencil would always be responsive when I needed it!
Another way that I utilized the pencil was for laundry. It is, surprisingly, a great tool to have on deck in the laundry room or close to a laundry basket. The times are different in this day and age. The days of a casual outfit consisting of pants with belt loops are over. The staple for a comfortable outfit is a lounge table, easy to put on pants, shorts, and hoodies. The common denominator here? A drawstring! Sometimes, these items go straight into the laundry basket, or maybe on the floor, without first untying the knot. This may be a fatal mistake, as one wash-through can cement that tie in place until the end of time. I have made this mistake plenty of times in my life, and it is not easy to fix. Even the most intentional pull or twist with fingernails can have no effect on a knot this tight. That is where the pencil comes into play. This has been the saving grace of many pairs of shorts and pants in my collection. With a precise jab and leverage of the pencil, I have freed up just enough space from one layer to the next to fit my fingernails on the string and pull the knot apart from itself. A pair of pants turned from a task to put on, jumping and pulling with all my might, back to a simple pull and tie. The way they were intended to be.
Whether a pencil is lodged under the seat in my car, lost for eternity, or strategically placed in my desk, I will always find a use for it. While sold as a unitasker at stores all across the world, with a little ingenuity I have found clever use of the back-to-school staple. So next time you overlook a pencil lost in the hall of the school, it may pay off to pick it up and keep it close. Who knows what help the fine point might play for you!