Friday, December 10, 2004

Loaded Duster

For students at the University of Pretoria, the Fuel Research Institute was a wonderful place to work. It was practically a part of the campus, and since the job consisted of performing a set number of experiments each day, one could schedule those around lectures.

One day towards the end of the semester, a few of us decided to conduct our own experiment. We decided to determine how many calories a yellow dust rag might contain.

The first step was to put the rag in the "bomb", which consisted of a heavy stainless steel cap screwed onto a solid metal base. Normally a pressure of 30 atmospheres of oxygen would suffice, but my helpful accomplice managed to squeeze 200 into the container. Everyone got carried away. While the device was being rigged others were preparing the bath, which was roughly the size of a hot tub.

By now I had developed a sense of foreboding. But before I could say "stop", the bomb was ready and someone flipped the trigger.

The next few seconds were wiped from my memory forever.

The first thing I can recall is getting up from the floor behind some cabinets at the far side of the lab. To my astonishment I was not alone – the entire staff was heaped in a pile behind this shelter.

I was stone deaf, but my remaining faculties seemed sharper than usual, and I noticed several things almost simultaneously:

The lights were out, and a fine dust was settling down on everything. There was a hole in the ceiling where the top of the bomb had shot into the lab above us, and there was another hole in the floor where the bottom went through to the basement. The “Jacuzzi” which used to be square, now looked like a balloon, and water was flowing from every seam.

Then I could hear again. As if in a tunnel, people were shouting and running.

Through the glass divider I noticed our boss in the office next door. He was experiencing considerable difficulties getting up from his chair. The poor man always had a nervous twitch, but now he was in the midst of a whole body spasm.

That is when I started to laugh. The more I tried to stop, the more I laughed. They gave me some sugar water, but it did not work. I was still laughing when they fired my ass and threw me out on the street.

Jan Tik.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The jacuzzi turned balloon haphazard reminds me of an episode from The Simpsons! LOL