Efficiencies at the Watercooler

My bottle was half-filled with water, but since I’d pass by the watercooler while on my way to the washroom, I decided to fill it up.

After filling my bottle to the brim, I took a few gulps and refilled the amount that I’d just gulped down. But for some reason or another, before I made my way to the washroom, I found myself asking if what I had just done was the most efficient way. I took a seat and started thinking.

The hypothesis: The fill-then-drink method is the most efficient way of achieving two things: (1) to quench my (immediate) thirst; and (2) to fill my bottle fully

I had filled the bottle up before taking a few gulps, after which I re-filled the bottle. But what if, I asked myself, I had drunk the water before I filled it up? Would that have been more efficient?

Imagine for a moment that the bottle is halfway filled. To drink the water from a halfway filled bottle would mean you’d have to tilt the bottle at least 90-degrees in order for the water to come out in any reasonable measure. To drink the water from a fully filled bottle would require a tilt of less than 90-degrees: quick and easy.

It seemed to make sense, and I was pretty certain my initial procedure was the best. The efficiency of fill-then-drink couldn’t be denied.

But I hadn’t yet thought about bottle-refilling, the second part of the equation. In terms of filling a bottle, their efficiencies should more or less be the same. To refill an empty bottle, water has to travel the full length of the bottle. To refill a halfway-filled bottle, water only has to travel half the length of the bottle. However, this is done twice: once before any water is drunk, and once after the water is drunk.

Whatever way you choose, water has to travel approximately the length of the bottle in total.

However, to fill a bottle twice requires an inefficient duplication of effort. You have to move into “water-refilling” position twice in the fill-then-drink method, as opposed to just once in the drink-then-fill method.

Will the efficiencies of less drinking tilt in the fill-then-drink method then not be negated by the inefficencies involved in having to fill the bottle twice? Actually, if you ask me, they’re more than negated. Refilling twice is a terrible efficiency waster.

Then there is the fact that water in the drink-then-fill method enables you to have the freshest possible watercooler water in your bottle. I don’t know if this is important to you, but it is to me (mixing different batches of water somehow makes me queasy-uneasy).

So perhaps I was wrong: Drink. Then fill. It’s the way to go.

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