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FISCHER: Living in the future can be cool

By Travis Fischer,

Isn’t technology grand?

I made a shopping run to Target the other day and while I was browsing the aisles, I decided to pick up a package of pens.

FISCHER: Living in the future can be cool
Travis Fischer

Naturally, I’m a little picky about my pens. One might think that a pen is a pen is a pen, but when you write as many handwritten notes as I do the minute differences become much important than when you’re just looking for something to scribble down a phone number or address.

Sometimes I am asked how I write notes so quickly. Part of it is because I have used one kind of pen nearly exclusively for more years that I remember. I don’t have to adjust my fingers to different sizes, weights, and materials. (The other part is writing so haphazardly that my notes often border on illegible, but that’s the sacrifice you need for speed.)

In particular, my pen of choice is the BIC Atlantis. It’s a rare occasion that I don’t have at least one on my person at any given moment.

So, of course, I browse through the pen aisle looking for the familiar yellow package of five that I have purchased so many times before.

I do not find it. An aisle full of pens of different shapes, sizes, and colors, but none the particular style I am looking for.

What I do find is a single empty peg in the middle of the rack surrounded on all sides by dozens of packages of pens that I am not looking for.

Fearing the worst, I pull out my phone and use the Target app to scan the otherwise unhelpful tag. I expect it to confirm my suspicion that if the store had BIC Atlantis pens in stock, this is where they would be.

And it is. Turns out I’m not the only one that seems to have a preference for that particular pen.

However, the app tells me more than that. In fact, it gives me two crucial pieces of information.

The first is that there are allegedly four packages of pens in stock in this particular store. Granted, that information could have been out-of-date, but it was enough to give me hope.

The second piece of information was much more important. Namely, that the packaging for my preferred pens had been updated, now sporting a sleek black background and fancy new font for the label.

With this new knowledge, and a bit of luck, I happened to spy a single errant package tucked on the wrong peg halfway between a row of a completely different brand of pen. Somebody’s carelessness became my gain and I was able to secure my needed re-supply.

None of which would have been possible without the marvels of modern technology. Without access to a real-time inventory count and visual reference to guide me, I would have all but certainly cut my losses and just assumed the store was out.

Granted, all that modern technology didn’t stop me from walking around the toiletries area of the store for ten minutes looking for Q-Tips before figuring out that some genius decided to hide them in the makeup area. Two steps forward, one step back I suppose.

It’s 2024. Living in the future can be pretty neat.

– Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and is passionate about his pens.

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