Spontaneous Combustion

A Good Man – Chapter 18 – JohnA Passaro


Pleasure in the job
Puts perfection in the work.

Aristotle


My “summer in the Hamptons” was winding down.

It was the dog days of August.

The days were long, hot and chaotic.

During one of these dog days, I was working the cash register and Bill was out on a delivery.

The flow in the store was constant, the pace was fierce.

Out of nowhere, I heard a loud BOOM.

An explosion.

The stifling hot warehouse increased the carbonation pressure of a 2-liter soda and made it explode.

Just like that.

This spontaneous combustion wasn’t a totally new phenomenon to me.

A few hours before, when I was walking by a pallet of soda in the warehouse, a spontaneous combustion of a 2-liter bottle initiated me with my first “soda shower”.

I don’t know if the long summer tired me out, or if I was just in a mischievous mood on the day of the BOOM, but the explosion triggered something in my head.

I asked myself, “What if these spectacular spontaneous combustions could be induced at will?”

Later in the day, after the customer flow had died down, I went out back to prove my thesis.

I rationalized that I was doing research, sort of a science experiment for the good of mankind.

I took a few 2-liter soda bottles out of warehouse inventory and I went outside to the employee parking lot which was a large open space in the back of the store.

A perfect environment for my experiment.

I can remember taking a 2-liter soda bottle and shaking it for thirty seconds to really increase the pressure inside the bottle and then….

I bent at the knees and I heaved the bottle straight up in the air.

I remember the ten or so seconds that the bottle was on an upward trajectory, and during that time, the experiment seemed like a great idea.

But as soon as the bottle reached its zenith and started plummeting downward with the momentum I had a change of heart.

I wanted to take back my actions.

It was too late.

There was no stopping the forces now.

The perfect soda storm had been created.

With the combined elements of the increased pressure of the carbonated soda, the heat, the flight and the force of gravity, I had formed an instant soda rocket.

The bottle hit the ground with such great force.

That as soon as it touched the ground, the bottle reversed course and instantly flew off like a missile towards the back entrance of the parking lot.

At the exact same time Bill was returning from his delivery.

The highly pressurized flying soda bottle just missed hitting Bill’s truck when he entered the parking lot.

I will never forget what happened next.

Bill got out of his truck, walked over to me and said,

“Let’s see what happens if we take this piece of plastic off of the bottom of the bottle. It’s probably just acting as extra weight.”

And we did.

It actually perfected the trajectory of the bottle during flight.

For the next forty-five minutes, Bill and I launched “Soda Rockets”.

We launched “Soda Rockets” over the roof of the restaurant next door, into the back brush; we launched them for height and we launched them for accuracy.

We launched them to let off some steam from working so hard.

We launched them to celebrate the end of the summer.

To this day I remember Bill being the last one in the parking lot launching “Soda Rockets” as I went back to work.

With a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Because when work is fun, it is not considered work at all.


Read the next chapter – Summer Bonus


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