Why do Triangle Highlighters Exist? – Day 39

My first day of working for the county largely consisted of the standard introductory presentation of information intended to enlighten us about what the county does, how different goings on function, introduction to HR protocols and how to fill out our timesheet, and the like. Two-and-a-half months later, when I moved into a different job with the county, I got to experience the presentation a second time. On both occasions, different departments sent a representative down to give their portion of the presentation, with each taking roughly 30 minutes to discuss the responsibilities and functions of their department. On both occasions, one presenter (whose department, for the life of me, I can’t remember) brought down a bucket of “goodies” to pass around the table. Since the first of these meetings was in October, the primary contents of the bucket (a jack-o-lantern bucket) were pieces of Halloween candy. Thanks to my vast amount of food allergies, I decided not to rifle through the candy to see if there was something I could eat, and instead chose a triangle highlighter emblazoned with the work vision of the county (I have no memory of what, if anything, I took the second time, although I believe the same jack-o-lantern was passed around at that January meeting).


For those who don’t know what a triangle highlighter is, it looks exactly as it sounds; a triangle, sides roughly 4 inches long and half an inch thick, each point consisting of a different colored highlighter (and each point capped). In this case, the highlighter colors are yellow, pink, and blue. Though unnecessary for a generic triangle highlighter, the county chose to place the aforementioned emblazonment upon the face of the triangle highlighter.


I have few physical items left from working with the county; I had few physical items to keep. However, for some reason, I still have this highlighter. As I sat down to write tonight, the highlighter was sitting next to me. I sometimes play with it, pulling the caps of and replacing them while I’m thinking. Tonight, though, a recurring thought about this highlighter came back to me:


Why on Earth does this thing exist?


I can understand the utility this implement attempts to impart by placing three different colored highlighters together, creating the implement in the shape of a triangle because of the three different colors. Indeed, from the county’s perspective, I can understand the choice of the triangle due to the three-sided, triangle vision that emblazons the highlighter’s face. However, with all of the writing implements in existence, I have to imagine that this is one of the clumsiest. This thing cannot be held like a normal pen, pencil, or highlighter. Instead, it must be primarily held by the side opposite to the head of the color the user trying to use. With this side placed in the space between the thumb and pointer finger, the thumb holds one face of the triangle while the other fingers are left to fumble awkwardly for grip on the face opposite the thumb. Wrist movement while using the implement can be forgotten due to a lack of control near to the tip of the highlighter and the bulk of the implement itself in the user’s hand.


Why would a person choose to possess this triangle highlighter rather than three individual, normal highlighters of different colors? The triangle highlighter certainly responds to the need of being able to know where each color highlighter is, and allows for only one possession instead of three. However, these pros are outweighed by the bulky, uncomfortable size and shape of the highlighter, as well as the issues that come with having the three highlighter attached together. Caps cover each highlighter tip for the same reason that all highlighters have caps. However, switching between each of the colors requires either that a person recap the first color to move to a second, or that a person leave both colors uncapped, risking holding one of the uncapped colors in their hand as they use the other. Separate highlighters would allow the user to set a highlighter down capped or uncapped while moving to a second color without worrying about holding the tip of a highlighter in their hand. In addition to this, the caps on the triangle highlighter are not easily removable. These caps cannot be easily removed simply by pulling on them; since the caps follow the shape of the triangle, they themselves have a triangular nature. the cap must be twisted, revealing two corners that then allow the user to remove the cap. On top of this, the cap is affixed tightly enough to the highlighter tip that the user must either deal with pulling the cap up from the edges while the cap digs into their fingers, or by sticking their finger underneath the edges of the cap and pushing up with their nails. This second option would not be as bad as the first if not for the unnecessary, unexplainable gaps on the edge of the face itself that the fingers dig into while pushing up on the cap, resulting in the same discomfort for the user’s fingers.


If the highlighter was made solely for the purpose of allowing organizations to place triangle shaped, or even simply a larger logo or figure on the face of the highlighter, then this product serves its purpose. However, if the utility of the implement was the primary factor behind its creation, then the triangle highlighter seems to be a response to an issue that was not great enough to need a response, providing a product that does not function as well as what it attempted to replace. Personally, I use highlighters so rarely that the utility of the triangle highlighter falls to an even lower height for me. For people who do use highlighters enough to need multiple colors, I would recommend getting normal, individual highlighters for any task they may need. As far as a thing to mess around with while I’m thinking, I’d rather have a stress ball: they’re easier on the fingers.


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