What color pen to use

Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with large organizations because of the rigid policies and procedures that they often have. In some cases, they may not even know exactly what their own policies and procedures are. I came across an example of this several years ago when I worked for the US government and had to travel to Europe for a week or so. When I arrived at my destination, another US government office, I had to fill out some sort of paperwork, and I used the pen that I had in my pocket to do this. This prompted a conversation that went roughly like this:

Woman behind the counter: I’m sorry, I can’t accept that form. You used a BLUE pen to fill it out and regulations require that it only be filled out with a BLACK pen.

Me: Really? I don’t believe that. Show me the regulation that says that I can’t use a black pen.

The woman behind the counter then disappeared for a few minutes, clearly stunned by my unwillingness to accept that the use of blue pens was banned. When she finally returned she decided to accept the paperwork that I had filled out with a blue pen, but I could tell that she really didn't want to. I’ll never know if she gave up trying to find the regulation that banned the use of blue pens or realized that no such regulation existed. I know which one I think probably happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *