Eulogy for the White-Barreled Round Stic Bic Pen

Bic-round-stic

I loved this pen for years and years, but then the unthinkable happened…

By Ostrander

15 April 2013

Yesterday I traveled to my local Wal-Mart and trekked eight miles from the parking lot to the stationery aisle to buy a new box of Bic Round Stic pens.  To my utter horror and disbelief, I discovered that my favorite pens had changed!  This last solid bastion of unaltered products has finally succumbed to the fickle whims of bored company marketers and executives.  Why, oh why, can’t these companies leave their products alone?  They have taken so many goods that I had brought into my life and used every day and snuffed them out or warped them beyond all recognition!  Now Bic desecrates the most important product of them all: the Round Stic pen!  I will send Bic USA Inc. my ambulance bill when it arrives, that is quite certain![1]

BIC-GSF11BK-Round-Stic-Ballpoint-Pen-2

Translucence.  Yuck!

The Bic Round Stic pen continues to exist under the old product name but in an intolerably bastardized form.  Previously, for years and years since its introduction in the 1960’s, the Round Stic had a white plastic barrel with ends and cap colored the same as the ink.  When this plastic pen first came out, I tossed my old aluminum retractable Paper Mate away and rejoiced at the Round Stic’s simplicity of design, the durability, the longevity and consistency of its ink, and its low price.  And now they’ve ruined it, changed to an awful translucent gray, both cap and body!  Were I to use this abomination, I could not help but stare continually inside the living guts of my pen, something that every pen should modestly keep to itself, something which I could not suffer to use without feeling a great disgust, frustration, and shame.  Oh, what have they done?

800px-Logo_Bic_2010.svg-2

Who is this mysterious Bic man? His head must be a dollop of ink.

The ballpoint[2] pen is a relatively new creation of modern mankind; it only gained widespread use after World War II.  Immediately before that time, most people wrote with fountain pens, which quickly ran out of ink, could take a few minutes to dry, and could leave quite a mess.  I certainly would never have carried a filled fountain pen, not even one with a cartridge, in my pocket as I do today with the ballpoint.  Gradually, improvements to the ballpoint pen led to its total dominance of the pen market, and fountain pens are infrequently used today.  Bic is a French company that started in 1945 and gained success in the 1950’s with its Bic Cristal, those brittle, clear-plastic, hexagon-barreled pens that remain common today, and which I have never particularly cared for, the Cristal shamelessly flaunting its innards and all.  Why couldn’t Bic have changed that pen instead?

Recent years have seen the rise of the rubber-barreled easy-grip pen, the ghastly gel pen, and pens writing in glittery ink in a variety of unprofessional colors such as purple or pink.  Keep such goofy pens far away from me!  Over the years, friends and family have also given me fancy metallic pens that are too valuable to lose and too inconvenient to refill.  I keep them in my desk and rarely use them.  Over the years I have habitually stuck with my simple, old favorite, Bic’s Round Stic.

After failing to find the pen at Wal-Mart—and after leaving the hospital—I frantically traveled from store to store to hunt for the old stock, but this new, unforgivable version of my pen mocked and taunted me in every single place.  I searched online, finding some from Korea on Ebay, but these would take weeks to arrive, and how could I be certain that the Koreans would ship the correct versions?

789px-Pomeranian_dog_standing-2

She may look cute, but I wouldn’t take her home!

Last night I could not sleep, tossing and turning so violently that Millie fled our mattress just before it slipped off the box-spring and onto that yappy Pomeranian dog of ours.[3]  This morning, such a gloomy and overcast morning, I awoke from a thin and restless snippet of sleep, not wanting to scale that great height from the cold, unforgiving floorboards to that aching upright position on my cold and swollen feet.  My heart ached with emptiness and depression.  I had lost all hope, capable only of mourning the loss of my old medium-point friend.

Oh, great pen, faithful toiler, always at my side
Your ink should have written long after I had died;
Life cut short; the grief, so heavy, crushes my heart
Life is now a shell, fractured, now that we’re apart;
Fickle marketers, bored executives, faceless every one
The loyal betrayed, the devoted cast away, used and shunned;
Sweet life of memories flowing across the years
Your ink runs dry and now I write only in tears;
Nights spent sleepless, yappy dogs in pain as I cried
Oh, great pen, faithful toiler, always at my side

After the horror of comprehension began to fade, memories of that pen flooded my thoughts.  I had signed the birth certificates of my children with that pen, and the death certificates of my parents.  I’ve written countless rambling essays and tedious novels over the years with that pen, and with it I have drawn many works of mediocre art.  For at least four decades, I have stocked at least one and normally two of these pens in my right trouser pocket at any given time; I do not feel entirely whole without at least one of my white-barreled Round Stic companions holstered and ready at my side.  In fact, about twenty years ago I took to wrapping a strip of masking tape at the bottom of each pen and writing a number on it; in this way I could inventory my pen stock and help make certain that I used one until it ran out of ink.  This has helped me foil pen thieves and my own forgetfulness, but despite this I still lose about a third of my pens.

Western_Diamondback_Rattlesnake_(179509290)

I’d never have kissed a snake without courting her first, and now that I’m married, I would never kiss a snake at all!

One time, a Round Stic Bic pen even saved my life.  I was crawling up a mountain in the Colorado Rockies several years ago when a ferocious rattlesnake sprung out and bit me between the mouth and nose; quickly, as my poisoned face began to swell, I yanked the tip and end off of my Bic pen and pushed the empty white barrel into my mouth.  Only by breathing through this tube did I survive long enough to reach a hospital.  (To this day my friends accuse me of trying to kiss that snake, and even though I was drunk and did find the diamondback to be very lovely, I would never have presumed to so boldly kiss such a creature even while drunk.  I have always acted as a true gentleman even to the most reptilian and legless of ladies, and I have long resented this chronic taunting by my so-called friends.)  But back to the pen.  The Round Stic Bic pen has served me for most of my adult life, and now it is marred beyond recognition!

I don’t like to loan my pens out.  On occasion, I must lend the pen to someone who sees me using it: common courtesy demands it, however much I cringe at the probable loss.  In my mind, as I watch it flit away in the stranger’s hand, I write this pen off.  Three-quarters of the time the stranger won’t return it, and when the pen does return I often find that the borrower has chewed its end!  What sort of doggish behavior is this anyhow, gnawing at the bottom of the pen?  Completely barbaric!  Even one tiny tooth-mark consigns the pen to the wastebin of pen-death; the pen is unclean, to be cut off forever from my collection.

After moping over a joyless Grape-Nuts breakfast, I tore through my house in search of lost Bics.  Couch cushions, junk drawers, garage benches, closets.  My hopes began to brighten as an arsenal began to grow.  #113 hid on the floor under my recliner; then #121 peaked from between the seats of my car.  Each reunion brightened my spirits just a little.  After three hours of searching, and some assistance by my old and patient wife, Millie, who could only shake her head at my “foolishness”, I have rescued fourteen of my old pens!  One of them, hidden away in a file cabinet, has no taped number and it says ‘medium’ instead of the more recent ‘med/moy’ beside the words ’round stic’, making this pen at least twenty years old; and it still writes!  Amazing!  This is one of the nice things about the Round Stic; the ink will survive unused for years.  Depending on their various levels of ink, these fourteen might last for another three or four years, assuming I only lose a couple of them.  After this successful search, I have turned a catastrophic emergency into a mere crisis.  I might even die before having to use the last of this fourteen, and I would rather die than use the new version!

Just moments ago, I found a more permanent solution to this problem, and I am happy to share my findings with anyone else who may share my detestation for this disfigured pen enough to buy 500 of them at once.

bic-pen-retro3-small

  1. First, download the above image to your computer.
  2. Go to the website of Norwood Bic Graphic Company, a subsidiary of Bic.
  3. Leave the shape as “Solid Color Barrel/Solid Color Trim”.  Change the Barrel Color to “White”; Change the Trim Color to “Black”.
  4. Under Barrel Imprint, select the radio button for “UPLOAD NEW LOGO”.  Click the “Choose File” button, and find the downloaded image (bic-pen-retro3-small.png), then click the “Upload File” button.  After a few seconds, the uploaded image should appear on the barrel of the virtual pen.
  5. I recommend increasing the size three times, and hitting the Left arrow button twelve times in order to more closely duplicate the original style.
RS

A solution!

And that will restore, closely enough, the old-style Bic pen to circa 1993 if you’re willing to shell out about $250 for the privilege, which I am![4]  With 500 pens, I could afford to shed my tightfisted ways with the pen, handing them out freely to all who stumble pen-less through life.  I’ll be like Ebenezer Scrooge on that wonderful Christmas morning after the three spirits had mercifully allowed him to live; I’ll leap through the streets in my pajamas flinging pens into the air, free from the stodgy and obsessive affection for inanimate writing utensils.

But I shouldn’t have to go to such trouble.  Why can’t these companies just leave their products alone?  I guess that companies assume, perhaps correctly, that people will grow bored of their old staples and move on to the exciting and new.  The businesses change their products to keep the faithless, more youthful consumers interested, and the old and reliable—but soon dead—fogies like myself have no choice in the matter.  We must adapt or die.


[1] And thank you, Wal-Mart associates Jim for calling 9-11 and Horace for the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

[2] “Ballpoint”, “Bellepoint”.  Yes, yes, I know.

[3] Unfortunately, Angie the yappy Pomeranian dog survived this incident.  I don’t call her “Angie” myself.  On those occasions when I must speak of this creature, or to this useless creature, I refer to her as “Scourgey”, as she has scourged my house each day since my wife brought her home six years ago.

[4] There is another, less satisfactory, solution. The tips, including their ink tubes, of the new and atrocious pens will fit within the old barrel of the old pens. The tips will look different, of course, but the remainder at least will be restored.  [Edit: 16 April: I have just found that even the tips and ink tubes of a pen will pull apart.  One could pull an ink tube from a new Round Stic and insert it into an old tip.  This is potentially messy, but I think it will work, thus completely renewing an old Bic body with a new ink tube.]

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41 thoughts on “Eulogy for the White-Barreled Round Stic Bic Pen

    • Well, if you still have an old-style pen, you can pull out the tip and its trim with the ink tube attached. The old, exhausted ink tube can be pulled out of the tip of the old pen, and you can use an ink tube from a new-style Bic Round Stic pen to insert into the old tip (beware, though, because a few drops of ink are sure to come out of the new ink tube). Then just push the old tip (with the new ink tube) back into the old-style white barrel, and your old pen is renewed! Yay! You might scribble with it a few times just to make sure it works. Good luck!

  1. I’ve been transferring new ink tubes to old white casings for about 2 or 3 years now, I still havent figured out the right pressure to apply to keep the ink free flowing or from seeping out. I have about 24 boxes of clear roundstics that were sent to me through my various attempts at getting my hands on my classic bics via online purchases and well meaning friends picking up the “right ones” from different stores. Maybe one day they will return like Coca-Cola Classic. Glad to see i’m not the only one devastated by our loss.

    • I thought I was the only one! I personally have not made wide use of transferring ink tubes as of yet. Instead, I have used the tubes and tips of the free Bic pens from my local credit union (ProFed in Indiana): they match the old tips exactly (at least they match so far). I realized that a batch of printed pens from the Norwood Bic Company would not work quite correctly. The printed pens would lack the indented/stamped lettering of the old-style Bics. So I’ve been using a re-fitted old-style Medium USA Round Stic (instead of Med/Moy), one of two that I have managed to find. (The second one I keep locked in my safe, ink tube removed. 🙂

      I like your comment about well-meaning friends and family. I’ve received “the right” pens also, a whole hodgepodge of pens. I keep them handy in case someone wants to borrow one. Very few people seem to understand this admittedly ridiculous obsession.

      We can hope that Bic will undo this change, but I’m afraid that I’m not very optimistic on this.

      Thank you, L P, for your comments. Like you, I’m glad I’m not alone!

    • Though I’ve never had any luck in finding them for sale, if you ask your friends and family, chances are that someone will have at least a few of them lying around their kitchen junk drawers. (But junk drawer pens never seem to have any ink…)

      The great trouble with such a request, however, is that they will bring you every other sort of pen as well, innocently thinking that they are the correct type. Most people don’t really notice the difference between pens, I don’t think. Maybe if you show a picture it will help. “Have you seen this pen?”

      If you can get the right kind and it still writes, great! But once it runs out of ink, you can change most of the parts with those from the new round stic pens, or better yet from free hotel pens (they have the same brownish-colored tips so you can just pull the tip off with the ink tube and stick it in the old white barrel).

      Good luck!

  2. I sooooo feel your pain. I have been on a search for the NORMAL bic round stick for months. I finally decided to see what I could find on Google (hoping not to read their obituary) and I do not like what I have seen so far. Too many times have I switched to other pens, only to give them away due to their lack of writing usefulness.

    • Sometimes I take long walks and remember the good ol’ days.

      I even noticed that the old pre-1992 pens were about half an inch longer than the post-1992 pens. I wonder if these newfangled translucent pens are shorter than our lamented white-barrel pens…

      • My BIGGEST concern is that the barrels are thinner? Because I could not find the white-barrels in the any of the stores I visited and I needed a pen, I succumbed to buying a pack of PaperMate Eagles. They just don’t feel the same in my hand and I think it’s mainly because they aren’t as thick as the Bic (no pun intended but as long as I’m “here”, what if Jethro Tull had called their album “Thick as a Bic”?). And for me, as much as I like how the Bic performs, it’s more how it feels in my hand (gee, THAT might not sound exactly how I meant it) than anything else.

        Another pen I REALLY love is the Schneider Slider XB in black (my Bics are ALWAYS blue). They are more expensive and I can’t find them in the stores anymore as well but I think the last time I looked, they were readily available online?

  3. Obviously, I feel your pain otherwise I would not have ended up here….a find that comes from my Google Search for an answer to this dilemma. THANKS!!

  4. Same feelings for this pen. Im dreaming to have such pen since i first saw them at school when one girl bring some from American relatives. It was about 2000 year. Im from Belarus. I purchased a week ago on ebay a pack of classic pens, will see what would i get

      • >She must have been some girl to make you fall in love with these pens. 🙂

        Yes. She present this pens to some people in class (she had about 3-5 pens). But I aint get one ))) so sad. since then i wanted to get them. I remember them. I asked some people who “understands” to bring me them. And now i have two packs of sh#t bid-pens)))

        >Good luck with your eBay order! Please let me know if you were successful.

        Ok, in some weeks

        Can you explain how to make a big order on nordic web site http://prntscr.com/2ic9vr ? I can’t see were i can pay))
        Thanks

      • Can you explain how to make a big order on nordic web site http://prntscr.com/2ic9vr ? I can’t see were i can pay))

        I never did go through with my resolution to order these promotional pens online. I realized that the name and logo would not be imprinted/stamped into the plastic of the pen like the originals but would instead be a silkscreen image. (And Millie was going to smack me in the head with a meat tenderizer when she found out I was thinking of spending so much money on ink pens. Not that this would have stopped me by itself. 🙂 )

        It seems that the Norwood site requires a new customer to register an account number when trying to set up an account, and how to get an account number I do not know and cannot understand such nonsense.

        But I will say that you can find these customized promotional Round Stic pens at other websites for much cheaper anyhow, usually between $0.30 to $0.39 US dollars per pen, though most of these sites also require a minimum order quantity of 500. Many of them say that they will send a sample, and this would be useful to confirm that these are the correct types of pens. But some of these websites do seem to make difficult an international order, so you may want to be careful about that. Here are a few links from what I could find (though I didn’t register with all of them and don’t know if they will send them to Belarus): BicPens.com, InkHead.com, Halo.com, National Pen, Pens-R-Us, or Marco.com.

        You could also contact your nearest Bic Graphic office, which looks to be either in Moscow or Warsaw, and get more information that way.

        Overall, I recommend that you shop around and get some samples if you can. Also, if you need a vector version of the graphic, let me know and I can send one.

        Once again, good luck to you!

  5. Truly a treat to read your lament after looking for a replacement for a favorite pen. Alas, I’ve not found it so far.
    Perhaps you have a solution to another pen issue I have. How in blazes can I get pens to write again or even for the first time after they’ve been sitting for a while? I’ve run hot water on the tips, put them in a bit of alcohol, heated them with a lighter, cut holes in paper rolling the ball around in hundreds of circles, etc., but nothing seems to get the ink to flow. Any ideas or suggestions? I have too too many pens that really feel “just right” but cannot use them.
    Thank you from a fellow traveler.

    • Thank you for your kind words!

      I am sorry to say that I am no expert on the revival of old pens, though maybe I’ll get in a few more years of practice during these last remaining years now that Bic went and screwed up my favorite pen. Years ago, I took my old Bics for granted, cheerfully flinging them away after just a few seconds of scribbling, knowing there was a whole world crammed full of more pens for the taking. People would sometimes pay me to take them! That was one of the things I used to love about those old Bic Round Stics. They cost almost nothing and they practically rained from the sky and I could lose one and just laugh it off after that momentary twinge of annoyance. Now that’s all changed as I’m using one of two pre-1994 models that I’ve found miraculously hidden away.

      There was a time some years ago on a Colorado trip when I’d forgotten to take more than my usual two pens with me, and I’d lost my first pen before I even got to Denver. Then the second pen seized up on the hike, and I began to panic. How would I write witty little notes and draw imaginative little sketches of mountain panoramas and caribou snouts? One of my fellow campers always kept a bottle of WD-40 in his gear, and he told me to soak the end of my pen point-down in a cup with a small amount of WD-40 in the bottom for an hour or so, and this did the trick for me. The ink was a little thin for the first few scribbles, but it had dissolved the dried ink blob enough to start the pen flowing again. I don’t think I ever got to return the favor…

      But I haven’t tried that since. If you’ve got a dead pen, it’s worth a shot to soak it in the WD-40, since the pen’s already dead otherwise.

  6. I enjoyed the Eulogy. If you are serious about purchasing these pens, I have 2 partial cases of “BIC round stic med/moy USA” ink pens I purchased for my retail store that is now closed. One of RED and one of BLACK. Each case has 36 boxes with one dozen in each box. I am willing to sell them at US $1.00 each pen in the unopened box, OR US $10.00 per (dozen) box. The problem is the cost of shipping. I can get only one box into a Small, Flat Rate, Priority Mail box unless the original box in unimportant. Then I could get 2 or 3 dozen in the same box. If you are interested in a larger amount, let me know what you seek and I can quote you a post paid price to you. (I would need your State and zip.) I will list them on eBay so you will know they are a legitimate sale if you wish.

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed this eulogy of my favorite pen. Your offer is extremely tempting, but I’m afraid I must decline it. (I’ve managed to collect enough of the old pens to last the rest of my lifetime and only greed would induce me to purchase any more.) However, based on the sympathetic reception of many people to this particular post, I am sure that your sale of these pens on Ebay will not disappoint you, particularly if you show photos of the pens and describe them as the old white barrel type. Many thanks anyhow!

    • Now just hold your horses, young lady! (And I do assume that you are much younger than myself based on simple odds. 🙂 )

      At the very link that you supply, the Product Description below this frustratingly misleading photo says, “One of the best-selling and most reliable pens in America. Colorful frosted cap and translucent barrel for visible ink supply. [Emphasis is mine.] My mind has grown old and somewhat foggy at times, perhaps, but I do seem to recall that my favorite pen doesn’t have a translucent barrel!

      There are many websites that have not updated their photos of these pens. Most people probably don’t care that the new pens don’t look like the old ones. Read the review of the poor soul who fell for a similar trap.

      Thanks for your noble efforts, miss. I do certainly wish that you’d been right. I also encourage you to keep up the hunt for me and the many others who miss this old pen. Your kindness to us will not be forgotten! 🙂

      Now would you please share with me in what manner you think that I was rude, or what your suspicions might be that you thought to have confirmed? I would be happy to try and clear up any concerns you might have.

  7. And *I* thought I was the only one! I’ve been searching high and low for the old-style white round stic medium pens, too. Even wrote the company! (not nearly as eloquently as you, though) The issue for me is less about the color than it is the fact that *any* other pen I write with feels like I’m dragging an ice pick across the page in comparison to our good old-fashions medium round stics. I’ve got 2 left. And then they’ll be gone. Thanks for the eulogy!

    • Don’t throw your old pens away, Michael. I keep procrastinating on making another post about this, but I have found that you can use new Bic Cristal pens to replace the tips and empty ink tubes of the old White-Barreled Round Stic. Apart from the “case” and cap, they have the exact same parts. Just pull steadily on the tip of the Bic Cristal and it will slip out, then do the same for your old White-Stic and swap the empty one for the full one. The ink and the feel while writing are identical as far as I can tell. I have tried it myself successfully, then hoarded 10 packs of the Bic Cristal out of paranoia that they would change those like they did the White-Barreled Stics. I hope this helps.

  8. I have one with a grip I found it in a building that had sat empty for almost ten years without a cap on and put in a ink tube from a different round stic (a silver one) though the grip has disintegrated ya the new ones are horrible looking and they feel a lot like cheap plastic but the grips are nicer looking

  9. While also extremely saddened and maddened with the loss of my favorite pen, reading this made me so ridiculously happy. The passion with which you have written about this has truly hit me right in the heart. I drew with these for my entire school career. Endless pages of designs and stick figure drawings and rambling notebooks. I’m definitely switching out some new ink tubes into this old favorite of mine (and probably ordering 500 as soon as I get home.) Thank you!!

  10. “Why, oh why, can’t these companies leave their products alone?”
    Oh, I know the feeling.
    Yesterday I found a blue Bic white-barrel pen in a box of art supplies that I had not opened since 1999. The pen works but is subject to occasional, severe skipping. The pen seems to “drag” a little, too. I wonder if the skipping will stop if I keep using the pen. I noticed that the ink color of this pen is much darker than the current pen.

    • It’s always a treat when one stumbles across one of these old pens.

      Do not despair about how your pen writes. I have found that the Bic Cristal ink tips will slide out of their clear plastic tube and they fit quite nicely in the old white-barreled Round Stic. And their tips are identical to the old Round Stic tips, at least for now. So long as Bic keeps making the Cristals the same, then we have a fairly simple way to keep our old pens scribbling. (I hoarded a fairly large supply of the Cristals just in case.)

      • Took the tip out of the Round Stic and replaced it with a tip from a Cristal. No wonder the old tip seemed to drag a bit when I wrote with it: the old tip’s ink supply lost about two-thirds of an inch of ink through evaporation.

  11. Hi Ostrander,
    I think around 2005 Bic first changed the Round Stic. They stopped making them in USA and moved to Mexico and the entire pen color was changed to reflect the ink color, they were still opaque though. It was around this time that the color of the ink for their pens was lightened as well. The ink nowadays is more sloppy and takes longer to dry. I think it was this decade that they introduced the translucent barrels.

  12. Most people think I’m weird, but the matte finish, white barreled pens are the only pen I’ll use. I lucked out and bought one box of originals on ebay and every box I’ve bought since then has been the glossy barrels with the barcode on the end of each pen. The best use I’ve found for them is replacing the ink when it runs out.

  13. Thank you for this lovely elegy. I just became aware of the loss of this great pen in 2015. Up until that point I had a seemingly endless supply at hand at home. I, too, searched fruitlessly through store after store. Occasionally I would ask others if they knew what happened and I received only confused looks in return (Such people probably don’t care about what type of notebooks they write in either. I just can’t relate.). Now, sadly I have confirmation that I am not delusional, the pen has ceased to be. I find the replacements to not only lack in aesthetics, but the ink doesn’t seem to flow as well. I thought perhaps there was an additive to the ink that turned out to be toxic, but knowing the real reason for the change was likely just a whim is very disheartening. All is not lost, however, as this morning I found an old pencil case with what may be the last remaining, fully functional white barrel, black ink Bic. It is a glorious day, indeed.

    • Thank you, Laurie. It is wonderful to know that we are not alone in lamenting the loss of this pen, even today. I keep intending to write an update to my article that shows how to restore the ink to an old pen barrel. (Procrastination, that imp, and his two lackeys, Aches and Pains, keep stealing my resolve to post it.)

      I found that the Bic Cristal ink tips will slide out of their clear plastic tube and they fit very nicely into the old white-barreled Round Stic. And their tips are identical (so far as I can tell, anyway) to the old Round Stic tips. So long as Bic keeps making the Cristals the same, then we have a fairly simple way to keep our old pens scribbling.

      Of course, if we live long enough, we might well see the day when it becomes difficult to buy a pen at all! Or a notebook. Last week, I tried and tried to find a physical map of Fort Wayne, Indiana, preferably in book form. It was painfully difficult! After coming up empty at several gas stations, I finally found, with help, a fold-out map hidden in the back corner of the book section of Wal-Mart. I bought two of them (out of their stock of three) and cut them up to fit inside plastic sheet protectors in a three-ring binder.

      At one of the gas stations, a dim-looking but well-intentioned cashier girl in her twenties eventually found some dusty Indiana statewide fold-out maps, and she was certain that this would do. No, it won’t have the streets, I told her. Well, why don’t I just use my phone, she shrugged, as though she’d stumbled upon the obvious solution. I prefer my Amish phone, I told her. We politely smiled at one another in mutual incomprehension. There is a bridge between my generation and hers that grows wider by the year.

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