We are all familiar with Lay’s Potato Chips commercial refrain: “Betcha can’t eat just one.” I would like to turn that phrase around and examine the universal phenomena of why people refrain from eating the last one of anything.
It never fails: you put your hand in the cookie jar and find there is only one remaining; you reach for the toilet paper and discover there is just a single scrap remaining on the roll. There is something inside of us which makes us hesitate when we get down to the lone remainder. This is especially true outside of the home in more social settings like school or work where you wouldn’t want to be accused of only looking out for number One.
Sometimes this delays the process of accomplishing the refill cycle. Someone needs to step up to the plate and take the hit so that the empty container can be refilled. Frequently the problem is that we don’t want the corollary responsibility of being the one to do the replenishing. That is why the last cup can sit so long in the coffee pot. People go out of their way to time their consumption to make sure that the music doesn’t stop playing with them remaining standing. Plus we think better of ourselves if we leave just a small remnant for others. We might have devoured ten cookies …but somehow we feel more piggish if we actually finish off the bag.
An even more objectionable practice is to remove the last item from the package but still leave the box in the pantry or refrigerator. I guess this somehow disguises the fact that you have selfishly devoured all the contents… or are you just too lazy to throw away the empty box? Who wants a freezer filled with empty ice cream sandwich boxes? That reminds me of the passage in Jude 1 decrying false teachers as “clouds without rain…” Why should eating the last item be any different from eating the first item? Maybe it shouldn’t be… but we all know that it is.