I was peacefully minding my own business in the left turn lane on the morning Chicago had a high temperature of -13 degrees Fahrenheit. As I watched the cross street’s light turn from green to yellow a crunching sound was seemingly deafening as my car lerched forward after some unlucky driver came careening into my rear quarter panel.
It was not the morning wake up I had wanted, but luckily the other driver and I were both safe and unhurt in the collision. Although it sounded terrible, the damage done to my passenger side was more cosmetic than structural. As luck would have it, a policeman had just pulled up to the other left turn lane to come up that same street.
If you are going to get rear-ended on the coldest day of the decade, that’s the way to do it.
Unfazed, I turned to the glove box for some scratch paper and my beat-up old Fisher Space Pen to get the guy’s insurance info.
I’m here to tell you, the advertising is all true. Fisher Space Pens can write in the coldest extremes!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Fisher Space Pen, it was invented for the exact reason it was named. Paul Fisher invented the Space Pen for NASA! NASA was looking for a writing instrument in space that didn’t need gravity to supply ink, was capable of writing in any environment on any surface. Paul Fisher realized it all came down to the ink refill. So he pressurized a ballpoint pen cartridge with a special formula ink that can write upside down, under water and on glass in any temperature range astronauts could conceivably experience from extreme cold to extreme heat.
The pens were a huge success on the Apollo missions and beyond. Fisher would introduce them to the public, where they have been an even bigger success. Police, firefighters, emergency workers and construction workers seem to universally love these pens that just don’t quit.
While I never disbelieved the advertising, I had never before put my old pen to the test in subzero temperatures. I am pleased to say it lived up to its promise. I just wish I had some for sale so that all of you could have the ultimate in emergency back-up pens or daily writers.
Oh, yes. Inevitably, someone will mention that the government wasted thousands of dollars helping to develop the Space Pen and that rival Soviet cosmonauts had a far cheaper solution to writing in space…a pencil. However, pencil shavings and graphite dust get dangerous in space. Without gravity, the graphite and wood dust build up quickly and become damaging to the lungs and sinuses. It also gets in the eyes, as well as the electronics and machinery. In the long run, the Space Pen is and was the way to go.