Don't take my flask, don't take my pens, don't take my prescriptions.
Those three things alone comprise my sanity during work. Thus, when I lend a pen to a customer and they keep it beyond a reasonable period of time? Oh God, do I get testy.
This one group of assholes in business attire were nearing the end of a Very Important Business Lunch. They'd instructed me to "Keep conversation to a minimum," because, you know, in addition to taking food and drink orders my job also entails asking people how their children are doing.
One of the four, a particularly pimpled, unpleasant corporate plebian, told me he needed a pen. I parted with one of the two I could find. The other pens, at some point, had been taken by customers or fellow servers who borrowed without returning.
The ideal number of pens for a shift is four. I now had one left.
Inevitably Pimpled Plebian and his corporate cohorts left without giving me back my pen. I could have let it go? Or I could have followed them out to their cars, not so much because I couldn't live without yet another shitty BIC pen, but because, you know, as a matter of principle, so I followed them.
"Excuse me," I yelled while walking in a manner that would have given my high heels a particularly bitchy click clack had I been wearing high heels.
They all looked at me equally confused.
"We paid?" one of them attempted to confirm.
"And we tipped...18 percent I think?" one of the others said.
"Fifteen percent, actually," I said with a grin. "But I'm just here to get my pen back."
"I didn't take your pen, I left it at the table," Pimpled Plebian said.
"Nope. I checked."
He took a look in his coat pocket. Aha! How'd that get in there?!
He handed me the pen, but couldn't help himself. "Couldn't you just buy another pen?" he asked.
"It's the principle," I said. "And no, I can't just buy new pens everyday. Not on fifteen percent tips."