I could run for elective office if I so chose. Even in retirement, after more than 40 years as a TV and radio news reporter I’m sufficiently recognizable that I could put my name up for election. I don’t have a lot of skeletons in my closet. Certainly none scandalous enough to draw attention. Maybe, given the way times have changed, I don’t have enough skeletons, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Nonetheless, I felt it was time to come clean about the addiction I have not been able to shed.

I steal pens. I am a pen thief.

My reputation precedes me into the offices of public officials, religious leaders, doctors, lawyers, business, and law enforcement. I am welcome with smiles and handshakes — but the pens are locked away.

My pen thievery is the stuff of legend, admired by icons like “Tip” O’Neill, the late Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. “Tip” and I once swapped anecdotes about the quality of watches and pens on “The Hill”. He actually once double dared me.

Having swiped pens from Scotland Yard, the Vatican, Buckingham Palace, state houses, city halls, and other high-profile venues, I set my sites on the biggest of all: The Oval Office.I’d already established a rapport with then-President Clinton. He knew and liked me. I had it planned. A one-on-one interview with no one else in the big room. I diverted the President’s attention and reached for one of his elegant pens — only to find him staring at me. Smiling.

“We know all about you, Garry”, President Clinton smiled cheerily.

Turns out the good pens had been stashed and replaced by cheap, discount ones that dried up after a few uses. I later found out some of my best political contacts — on both sides of the aisle in DC — had joined in a bi-partisan move to warn the President about the notorious pen thief from Boston.

Being a legend isn’t as easy as it looks.

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.


  1. I worked in outside sales for a bank in their student loan division. One Halloween, I ran out of candy, and still had kids coming around — I diverted a few pencils to the cause! My boss thought it was a great idea — after all, the kids would grow up to be college students, and their parents could use the pens in the meantime! I’d send you one, but I’ve given them all away by now!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No, it isn’t — but then these were kids, and they didn’t swipe the pencils, either! In fact the kids were probably a little disappointed — but it makes a good story of what happens to those giveaways!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’ve heard that story before. Funny. And I can see President Clinton being part of the “gatcha” when you tried to swipe a pen. Quick question – where was the photo with President Clinton taken? It reminds me of a place in Manchester. NH that I saw his wife speak in 2016. I did get to meet Hilary in a back room, but didn’t try to swipe any pens…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is hilarious. And the numbers in the “Pen Thieves Club of America and the World” are vast and numerous. I’m one too as it happens, only they haven’t cottoned onto that fact yet. I guess fame does have its price, and since I’m not famous in anyone’s mind, I’m free to indulge my illicit pleasure. Heh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Emb, I prided myself on nabbing some good pens in high stakes venues. A little bit of Cary Grant, “To Catch A Thief”…..


  4. Boy Howdy! Garr.., I understand your malady completely. Old coffee mugs are the resting places for my plundering and there are cups all over the place. Please come visit again, Buddy, and take whatever you want.., it will help reduce my inventory.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What an interesting life you have led. And meeting all those people! I bet you have tales to tell. Pens!! Oh my, we share the same obsession. Pens and paper. Can never have enough. Mind you, I don’t nab them though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

          1. LOL! But when you are a journalist, you can never be without a good pen! It was out of necessity. Right? Wink…wink.
            I do feel for you though, if my husband started swiping my pens, it might have caused a small war between us.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Quite a lot of confession going on in this posting. Do Priests deal with this as a genuine sin, or is it just too trivial a waste of time? You know, far more serious and “huge” things to forgive? Sinners gotta go for absolution now so they can jump back into the fray while keeping the sins from piling up. Pens, Schmens!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ben,about the confession thing. There were the days when I was a Crucifer (kid who carries the big cross and leads the choir in and out of church). My duties included filling up the wine holders for Communion…………..


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