SHEAFFER VS. MERCURY RETROGRADE, SHEAFFER WINS!

sheafferpfm-01A year and a half ago I bought one of my favorite pens, a Sheaffer PFM III, from a collector friend at the first anniversary party of Fountain Pen Network – Philippines.  It’s black plastic, with a fat barrel, and was missing the white dot on its clip.  It was my first Snorkel filler , and it sported a beautiful, extra-fine inlaid nib, the kind only Sheaffer made.   I called the PFM the Pen For Mona.  The Pen For Me.
sheafferpfm-02Fast-forward to 2011.  The Pen For Mona was in constant rotation, as it was one of my smoothest writers.  One day I was going to fill the PFM with some Diamine Claret, a pink-magenta ink that I often use for editing and highlighting text.  After only two pages of writing in my journal, it suddenly ran out.  Something twisted in my gut.  I ran to the bathroom sink and tried filling the pen with water.  Yes, I heard the “whoosh” sound the internal latex sac makes when it sucks in ink.  Problem was, it wasn’t spitting out any when I depressed the Touchdown tube.  Snorkels are those fountain pens naughty people used to use in the 1950s and ’60s to shoot ink at annoying classmates.  They should shoot out streams of ink.  Or inky water, when you’re cleaning it.  Anyhow, something was very wrong.  Maybe there were minute holes in the sac.  I was afraid ink would get the metal innards wet and cause rust.  I couldn’t sleep.

I couldn’t sleep, because I had to figure out how to send the pen to the US for repair.  I’d decided on sending it to Danny Fudge, who has repaired pens for several of my FPN-P friends, among them Prof. Jose “Butch” Dalisay.  The very next day I bought one of those Jiffy #00 padded envelopes, and a cheap, hard plastic toothbrush container.  The pen, wrapped in Kleenex, went into the protective toothbrush container and into the padded envelope.

Problem was, someone at the main post office of our neighborhood didn’t want to accept the package for mailing.  They opened my envelope and read my letter requesting for repair. And then they insisted on not accepting it since “it may contain ink, and you know how strict the US Post Office is these days.”  Facepalm moment.  Um.  Hello.  The letter specifically said it wouldn’t load ink correctly, how could I send it filled with ink???  Fortunately I’d had some good coffee before this, and immediately tried sending it at another nearby PO, where it was accepted without any questions asked.  I paid PhP 170 (around USD 4).  That seems like a lot, but when you think of a fountain pen as being something you’d like to pass on to your family later on, it’s worth it.

And THEN I read another friend’s post about the upcoming Mercury Retrograde.  At one retrograde period four years ago, the monitor on my Powerbook G4 went kaput and I had to have it replaced.  I had only one year’s worth of Apple Care on it and had to find another Powerbook secondhand which I cannibalized for parts.  Ever since then, I became apprehensive whenever someone mentioned the words “Mercury Retrograde.”  To me it meant Murphy’s Law, even though planetary alignments seem like the strangest things to affect human day-to-day lives.  The more people joked about it, the more I worried. I needed to think positively, but was failing.

Since Mercury Retrograde took up most of April, I worried that the PFM would get lost in the mail, on its way to Danny Fudge.  Or that it would get lost in the mail on its way back to me.  When the retrograde period ended, I immediately sent an email inquiring after my pen.  “I already sent it, with an invoice,” Danny wrote back.  An invoice!  Good!  Then in case Customs people decide to charge any arbitrary fees I can always reason out that I only sent an old pen to be repaired!  (That was another thing I worried about.)

It was an old pen.  It had lots of scratches.  It was missing its white dot.  But it wrote wonderfully.  That’s the thing with acquiring vintage pens.  It’s 50 years old.  It’s been pre-loved.  It may need a bit more maintenance, more TLC.  There’s some part of me that reminds me not to get too attached to physical objects, but I LOVE this pen.

During the two-week wait I muttered the affirmation, “I am receiving my pen back quickly, safely and easily,” a million times.  Well, what do you know.  I only paid the PhP 40 (around USD 0.90) handling fee.  The pen came back to me in its original hard plastic toothbrush case.  Polished!  No white dot replacement, unfortunately (Danny didn’t have any to fit), but that’s only cosmetic.  I rushed to the bathroom sink and tried filling it with water.  Oh joy!  It made that “whoosh” sound.  It shot jetstreams of water again!  I immediately filled it with Pilot Blue-Black ink and tested it.  Danny Fudge has this policy about only paying for the pen when you’re satisfied with his work.  Boy, was I satisfied.  I immediately went online and paid the guy, and spent the rest of the day feeling like I was floating on clouds.

sheafferpfm-03(Old photo of writing sample with Waterman South Sea Blue.)

I feel sheepish about all the worrying I did during the Mercury Retrograde period.  It was needless and irrational, but I’m human.  The distrust of the local postal system’s efficiency is something I have to work on.  What matters is, the Pen For Mona is back.  It’s a small thing, but I’m happy.

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