I collect writing instruments, mostly pens.

Occasionally, I purchase a nice pen if I happen to see one, and I never pass up a good “gimmie” pen.

I’ve been known to ask for a cool pen at the doctor’s office or some other business if I see they aren’t going to give me one. If you don’t ask, the answer is always “no,” and more often than not, I end up with another pen for my collection.

Once while on vacation in Tennessee, I signed something at our hotel in Chattanooga with a very nice Marriott pen, and I asked the lady working the desk if I could keep it. She went to an office and brought me back four of them.

The hotel was pretty expensive and I probably can’t afford to stay there again, but I did give them a nice review.

As a bonus, I didn’t let my son pull his favorite hotel prank — fogging up the giant mirror in the bathroom and using his finger to write “Hello” on the mirror for the next person who stays in the room to see when they step out of the shower.

I try to never flat out steal a pen, but I have — out of habit — signed something and just stuck the pen in my shirt pocket only to realize it later when I got home or had to sign something for someone else.

That happened to me a few years back when my lovely wife and I visited a local gun shop/shooting range. When we got home, I realized I had walked away with a pretty nice Glock pen, so I called the range to make sure I hadn’t swiped someone’s favorite writing instrument.

I offered to bring it back, but the man I talked to assured me they had plenty of pens.

That was a big relief, because the last thing I want to do is steal something from someone who spends his days around weapons and has unlimited access to a practice range.

I have pens from local high schools, several colleges, numerous restaurants, the aforementioned doctor’s offices, banks, a mobile home park, the City of Kilgore, the City of Longview and a few churches.

All of the church pens were gimmies. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Some of the pens are special, like the black Cross pen with my name on it in gold I got as a Christmas present from my wife and the set of Captain America pens given to me for Father’s Day by my son.

I have two baseball bat pens — one from the Chicago White Sox and one from the Colorado Rockies. I have been to neither of those ballparks, but someone thought enough of me to bring me those pens for my collection.

Some of the pens are quirky, like the one that writes decently but also folds out and turns into an actual working squirt gun or the “survival” pen I can use to break the glass or cut the seatbelt on my truck if I ever wreck into the Sabine River on my way to or from work.

A co-worker recently saw part of my collection — about 150 writing instruments — when I opened a drawer on my desk at work, and said, “I believe you have a problem.”

I asked if she had ever needed to sign something or jot down a note quickly but didn’t have a pen handy, and she admitted that has happened to her.

“Never happens to me. Sounds like you have the problem, and I have 150 solutions,” I smugly replied.

I’m just glad she didn’t see that survival pen.

Pretty sure if that thing will break glass and cut a seatbelt, I don’t want to know what it’ll do to a smart aleck columnist.

— Jack Stallard is a Kilgore resident and sports editor of the News-Journal. Email: jstallard@news-journal.com; follow on Twitter @ lnjsports

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— Jack Stallard is a Kilgore resident and sports editor of the News-Journal. Email: jstallard@news-journal.com; follow on Twitter @ lnjsports

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