Rats with Coffee

One of the most brutal experiments ever carried out in behavior science, the “hope” experiment, involved drowning rats. One Dr. Richter wanted to figure out if stories of humans surviving seemingly impossible odds had something to do with the concept of hope. So he started drowning rats, by the buckets-full. After drowning several hundred, he noted that on average rats could last for roughly fifteen minutes before they stopped swimming and sank. That was the control. For the other half of this macabre experiment, Dr. Richter would rescue the rats just as they were drowning, give them a brief moment of respite, then drop them back into the drowning tank. The rats that had been rescued – the rats that had been made to believe that they might have a chance at survival – those rats continued swimming for another two hours. By giving them that one experience of relief, Dr. Richter had shown that an animal can push itself far past its apparent limits, so long as there is some form of temporary relief and recovery from the situation.

Now imagine you are waiting for the shinkansen when the unthinkable happens – a massive earthquake hits Tokyo, leveling buildings and triggering a huge tsunami. You somehow survive, but are trapped under rubble, with freezing cold water pouring down on your head. You’ve been trapped like that, in that tight spot, shivering, injured, every aftershock tremor filling your heart will cold dread. You think this must be the end, you are at your limit, and there is nothing left to do but close your eyes and hope you drift off to a place that is more gentle and warm than the cold, dark place that will be your tomb. But then, somewhere near your face, you see it – the soft yellow light of a Boss Coffee machine. You can reach it, if you stretch out your arm, and sure enough with the last bit of your strength you manage to tap the vend button. A hot aluminum can of Boss Coffee rolls out of the machine, and by some miracle you manage to catch it in your arms. The warm liquid fills your belly, and gives your soul the strength of will that only coffee strong and creamy enough to be called “the boss” can bring. You’re going to last, no matter how long you must wait. A few days more, you are sure of it, someone will dig you out. A tear of happiness rolls down your cheek, and you press the button again. And you drink more coffee, like a boss.

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