HARTFORD, CT–Duane Grunfeld, a 44-year-old Hartford-area insurance-claims processor, experienced a passing moment of satisfaction in his otherwise agonized existence Tuesday when he purchased a new pen.

Hartford, CT, insurance-claims processor Duane Grunfeld, who recently enjoyed a brief respite from his bleak, woeful existence when he purchased a UniBall Gel Writer XT pen (left).

"It's a nice pen–smooth-writing and easy on the hand," Grunfeld said of the $2.79 UniBall Gel Writer XT he purchased during his allotted 30-minute lunch break.

With its retractable fine point and rubberized grip, the quality pen briefly helped Grunfeld forget about his thinning hair, the severe reprimand he received from his supervisor Monday for tardiness, and the Aug. 11 death of his only companion, a 9-year-old parakeet named Mr. Whistles.

New pen.

"It's got a really nice feel when you click it," Grunfeld said during his three minutes of pen-induced solace. "I like how the body is made of clear plastic, so you can see the springs inside."

Added the spiritually broken Grunfeld: "The ink seems really sharp, too. Pens of this kind often tend to bleed."

Grunfeld, a longtime widower who has been passed over for promotion six times during his 10 years with Hartford's TriState Mutual Insurance, said he purchased the UniBall Gel Writer to cheer himself up after "a particularly tough morning at work."

"Let's just say things weren't going well," Grunfeld said, "so I decided to treat myself to something nice."

Also factoring in the decision to purchase the pen, Grunfeld said, was the cramping he had recently been suffering in his writing hand.

"The claim forms I process all day long have to be filled out in quadruplicate, so my choice of writing instrument is important," he said. "TriState provides Bics for its employees, but with those cheap ballpoints, you have to press pretty hard."

Grunfeld made his purchase at a local office-supply store, where he reportedly tested over two dozen pens for fluidity, ease of use, hand comfort and overall "writing feel." After trying out pens for 10 minutes on the small scratch pads provided by the various pen manufacturers, the clinically depressed Grunfeld settled on the UniBall Gel Writer.

Grunfeld then returned to his office cubicle and broke out the newly purchased pen.

"It writes through all four forms with a lot less pressure," said Grunfeld, using the pen moments before returning to his usual deep malaise. "I could process claims all day with this pen."