Jar full of jellybeans, but number debate continues

This past Saturday, McGinn's Pharmacy ran a promotion asking customers to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar. Little did Rick McGinn, owner and pharmacist, expect so much controversy.

The jar, about the size of a gallon milk jug, sits next to the register. Tammy Steward, Rick McGinn's granddaughter who works at the pharmacy after school and on weekends, is usually at the register taking people's guesses.

"The guesses are all over the place," says Tammy. "Some people are guessing 70, which is just ridiculous, while others claim there are nearly two million. That's just as silly."

McGinn doesn't expect anyone will hit the exact number of jellybeans, but he is surprised over the debate that takes place.

"Two guys got into some real name-calling the other day," claims McGinn as he stands over a Cheetos folding chair, the promotion's prize for the closest guess. "One of them said there was no way there could be more than two hundred jellybeans because he always has jellybeans in a dish at his house and apparently keeps close tabs on it. I honestly don't know who this guy was. I've never seen him before. All I know is he got off a bus, came in and started shouting about how so few jellybeans weren't worth a Cheetos chair. The guy was nuts."

This apparently made a regular McGinn's customer, who Rick doesn't want to name, quite upset. When the customer asked the first man to calm down, he was called a "beaner," a typically racially derogatory term for Mexicans co-opted by those who think the jellybean promotion is a "sham." McGinn is all-too-familiar with those folks.

"Some other local knucklehead has taken to going on the internet and calling me and anyone who might be over-guessing the number of jellybeans "beaners." Not only that, for some reason he thinks the whole thing is racist. My granddaughter thinks he was in here the other day trying to sneak black jellybeans into the jar. Seriously? I just opened some bags of Brachs and poured them in!"

Such attention to the promotion isn't limited to just those who seem to be against it or are in the group of people low balling the count. One customer who thinks the promotion is great is commissioning a satellite fly-over to get an accurate picture of the jar.

"He's just as nuts," says McGinn. "I keep telling him the jar is inside on the first floor of a three-story building. But he says this is the only way to settle the debate."

Of course, this is one other way. McGinn could just let people know the exact amount. But that has its problems, too.

"A few years ago I did the same thing with candy corn around Halloween. After all the guesses were in and I announced the winner (the person with the closest guess), I said exactly how many kernels were in the jar. People didn't like hearing the truth. So now I just tell people who won but don't give out any numbers."

McGinn looks at the jar and shakes his head.

"You'd think that I've got this promotion is enough. I can't figure out why everyone has to nitpick. Some people just have to be jerks, I guess."

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