It’s Stub Completion Day for me! Yay! What’s Stub Completion Day? That’s the day when I finish up all of my unfinished stubs.
It probably sounds neurotic that I have an entire day devoted to finishing pencil stubs. But it serves a purpose that I find practical. Generally, I am choosy about which pencil I’m using; it’s typically one that I’m the process of writing a review for. My intention when I write a review is that I use an entire pencil to 100% completion (defined as the point where I can’t comfortably hold it for writing) so that I am making an informed opinion.
I still manage to create a lot of almost-but-not-quite-used up stubs, though.
Things don’t always proceed as linearly as intended. The problem is that the smaller the pencil gets — and the more I cart it around with me, trying to use it up as quickly as possible so I can crank out the next review — the easier it is to lose. Furthermore, I don’t always end up using that ONE pencil for every purpose. Sometimes I don’t have time or interest to be choosy, and grab one at random out of my pencil cup or my bag. Sometimes I use other pencils for comparison when writing a review. Sometimes I just feel like writing with something different. Those pencils all get whittled down to stubs gradually; so slowly that they have a way of flying under my pencil radar, so to speak.
These stubs have an uncanny way of turning up in strange places. Collecting in the bottom of cluttered drawers, forgotten at the bottom of my pencil cup where they are overshadowed by the younger competition that towers over them, re-emerging from betwixt the couch cushions, or whatever. Sadly, some of them end up falling into some bottomless pencil pit, never to be seen again. I am still mourning the loss of my Shahson’s Executive and my Casemate No. 2, which both went MIA just as they approached pencil retirement. But thankfully, many over-the-hill pencils return home eventually. Then I round them all up, dust off their pants, and have a handful of little buddies that I need to finish up. Then, on Stub Completion Day, I try to polish them off!
OK, that explains how I end up with so many stubs, but why do I feel compelled to use them up? Why does it matter? After all, they’re almost used up, and used-up pencils are just trash, right? Anyway, don’t I have an entire desk drawer full of pencils that I haven’t even tried yet? Why get hung up on wasting a couple of inches of pencil? The answer is that I don’t just throw my pencil stubs in the trash.
I’m saving them because (NERD ALERT!) I’m creating a giant jar of pencil stubs.
My family got me a “Pantry Pack” of Peanut M&Ms from Costco for Christmas, because I’m addicted to them and blow a significant portion of my paycheck at the vending machine buying them. It only took me a few weeks to gobble down all of the delicious goodies inside, leaving me with a big empty container (and a big empty hole in my self-esteem). I love reusing and re-purposing things, so I wasn’t going to throw away a big plastic jug. In fact, I studied this container long and hard, pondering potential uses. Then I had a thought: I wonder how long it would take me to fill this thing full of pencil stubs?
It seemed like a challenge. The thing has to be, what, half a gallon? But I like to go big or go back to the pencil factory. So I’m trying to save up all of my pencil stubs for whatever period of time it takes to fill it, and then reflect back on that accomplishment.
I’m thinking it’ll take a very long time. I use up pencils pretty fast, but it’s going to take a lot of pencil stubs to fill this one up. I’d reckon, at most, I could put in one or two stubs a week. In reality, I’ve been working on it for a few months now and (as you can see) progress is pretty slow — partially due to stub misplacement. I’m also trying to avoid temptation to cheat and allow my definition of “stub” to slowly creep upward until I’m tossing pencils that are only half-used. I meticulously compare them to the stubs already in the container. Maybe I’ll even make some sort of ruler to measure up to and keep myself honest. A good stub is a labor of love.
All of that is to say, every stub is precious. When I get close to the end of one and misplace it, it’s a big setback in my quest to fill the jar. Also, there’s just something satisfying about finishing a wooden pencil. That’s one reason I choose them over pens or mechanical pencils: it’s like the wooden pencil has a built-in progress bar. Grinding one down to a stub through daily use is an accomplishment, and as I get closer to reaching that goal I start to feel a little excited. When I lose a stub, it’s kind of crushing. It’s like making it to the final qualifier for the Olympics only to have your top rival put out a hit on your kneecaps. On the other hand, when I find a stash of them, it’s like a chance to tie up a bunch of loose ends. It’s satisfying. And it helps fill my jar faster!
So, today I am taking a break from using my next review pencil, and trying to use up as many of these lil’ stubbins as I can. It’s Stub Completion Day. Happy Stub Completion Day!