The Retarded Jellybean Syndrome has been well documented - that is, given a bowl of jellybeans, a malformed jellybean is least likely to be chosen for consumption if there are any other "normal" jellybeans around. As a corollary to this, I present the Pariah Coke Can Theory, an ongoing experiment here at work...
There is a large cooler of soda, bottled water, and similar beverages here at work. This cooler is filled once a week (usually on Mondays). Drinks are presented on six racks, and are left in their twenty-four-count low-cut cardboard cases.
Given a completely full case of Coke, and another one with just a single can, people will tend to leave the single can alone, opting instead to take one from the full case.
None that I can officially report. However, I've noticed over the past few months that cans that are alone tend to be left alone. I'm almost positive this theory will hold true, but we'll have to see in the coming days.
POSSIBLE SOURCES OF ERROR
Well, I'm going to have to keep an eye on the full case, to make sure it remains relatively full. Another problem is that when new cases are added to the environment, they're not cold. Given the choice between a warm, grouped Coke, and a cold, solitary Coke, temperature will overcome solidarity.
I've set up the environment as of 4:00 pm, July 10, 2000. I will give periodic updates in this space.
July 11, 2000, 9 am - I checked the cooler first thing this morning... there are two Cokes gone from the full case, but the lonely Coke remains. There were a lot of Diet Cokes gone, though. I wonder if I should have done a Diet Coke expirement instead.
July 12, 2000, 10 am - Yup, the single Coke can is still there. The case was about half empty, so I took some cans from another case on the opposite side of the cooler and filled it in. A co-worker saw me doing this and started getting nosy. I said I was tidying up, and that was all. She bought it hook, line, and sinker.
July 13, 2000, 4 pm - Forgot to check it this morning. When back this afternoon, and it was still there. However, no one has taken any from the adjacent case. They must be taking them from the other side of the cooler. Setback.
July 14, 2000, 11 am - No one's touched the Coke yet, although the amount of working time between observations is not very great. Will check the can on the way out this afternoon.
July 14, 2000, 4:30 pm - Still there. The cooler is completely empty of diet beverages. There are still a few cases of Coke, some Minute Maid Orange, and some of that nasty Adirondack Lemon-Lime Seltzer. Experiment proceeds.
July 17, 2000, 9:30 am - The drink guy has already come and left, having reorganized the whole goddamned fridge. There is no evidence of the pariah coke can... has it been taken? Replaced? Reintroduced into the group? The experiment will have to be restarted, this time with a Diet Coke to ensure that all of the other Diet Cokes can be taken before this one.
July 18, 2000, noon - No movement on the Diet Coke. Four full cases are gone in one day, which I suppose isn't a lot considering there are 125 employees in the company. Still, Diet Coke?
July 19, 2000, 11:00 am - We're down from 10 cases of Diet Coke to less than two, and still the pariah Diet Coke remains. This may be proof enough.
July 19, 2000, 3:27 pm - A random encounter ruins the experiment! Maxine has decided to leave early today, and has also decided that she'd like to take a case of soda home with her. She was spied in the kitchen by this observer swiping all manner of cold beverages, including the pariah Diet Coke can.
Not enough data was collected to confirm the working theory, although I lean strongly in believing that it is true. However, it should be noted that the theory breaks down in the presence of greedy bitches who take advantage of company generosity.