I bought two large jugs of coffee creamer: One French Vanilla. One Hazelnut. Both low-carb, low-calorie because I'm trying to drop thirty pounds so that I can qualify to fly light helicopters. (Yes, that's a totally different story about what I'm saving my money for, another time, another time...) I carefully labeled "BARNSON" on the sides of both containers in permanent magic marker.
I use 1-2 tablespoons of creamer with work-coffee. That seems just about right. I tried it out. It's good! It turns the coffee at work from bitter, barely-palatable brown goo into something resembling the caffeine-filled, rich, flavorful brew that I know it can be. I regard coffee as a bit of a treat, something I don't do every day. And bad coffee as a treat is every bit as bad as Asphalt Pie made with real, 100% asphalt.
I didn't have a cup of coffee at work for a week, and I came back to find out that my creamers are both half-gone. I had a coffee a couple of times over the following week, and the level dropped drastically. Soon thereafter, I shook the containers and heard just the smallest bit in the bottom. Maybe another tablespoon left. Wow, that's a lot of consumption from just my five cups -- maybe ten tablespoons -- of coffee.
The level of coffee creamer drops precipitously when stored at work. I know one fellow I work with has my "permission" to drink some... but even his proclivities aren't this prodigious. He's in the same boat as me, and drinks coffee irregularly, perhaps 3 cups a week if he's binging.
Experiment time! Let's leave the jugs in the refrigerator and see if they drop completely or are thrown away.
Every day, now that the level of creamer has dropped precipitously low, I shook the jugs to see how much was left. A week later, they remained at exactly the same level -- about 1-2 tablespoons each -- without diminishing further. This morning, I emptied out the dregs into a cup and tossed the empty jugs.
Hypothesis: The level of owner-labeled coffee creamer in shared refrigerators will approach, but never reach, zero, unless the owner takes the last sip. Corollary: Those who drink the creamer without the owner's permission feel too guilty about it to drink the very last of it and throw it away. It's as if finishing off someone else's food is a sin greater than stealing it in the first place.
I guess saving the last bit for the owner is the polite thing to do, after all. Allow him the privilege of tossing away the creamer jug you drank.
There is another way to look at it, though. By putting my name on the jugs, those who "borrow" creamer will know whom they owe for the privilege. Since so much of humanity works on the barter system and trading of favors, I can look at $3 a week for coffee creamer as cheap payments for future favors from co-workers.
Now if I could just figure out who's doing it, I could call in that debt...