Christmas break had ended and, for now, so had my part of the top-secret work-study. Now that I was back home I took advantage of the reliable Internet access and purchased several more Industrial Alkaline batteries and plenty of PR6 bulbs for my Eveready 1259. I also cleaned the tube and contacts. It was now working as if it were almost new . School had now started up again. The class for my first period was science. Co-incidentally, the subject was on the auto-ignition temperature of various materials and fluids. The material came as a breeze to me as I had already been exposed to it hands on during my work-study. After the notes were written down the teacher began to lecture.
“Auto ignition temperature is the minimum amount of heat required to cause a given combustible substance to ignite. Different materials have different temperatures and care must be taken when handling any one of them.” She paused and then said “Through extensive research, trial and error and even accidents; scientists and engineers have compiled data on plenty of these materials. Doing so allowed for their manufacturers, handlers and end-users to be able to know how hot is too hot. This vital data, when taken seriously, saves billions of dollars and, more importantly, countless lives.” She paused, then continued “Companies and workers that deal with these materials are required by law to use equipment that is positively known not to generate heat beyond the ignition point. This includes motors, lighting, switches and even hand tools. Virtually any machine, device or instrument that could generate any sort of spark must be heavily regulated. Any component that is to be used in an atmosphere where a potentially explosive material is present must not generate heat that meets or exceeds the auto ignition temperature of the given material. This takes some science and engineering to allow conformity, which we will cover some of this is the following lessons. Many students appeared to be bored. I, on the other hand, was listening. This pertained to my everyday work and would for years to come. I was already aware and well rounded in the material presented.
Feeling the desire to show off; I reached into my backpack and pulled out my flashlight then said
“Speaking of auto ignition temperatures, I have a flashlight here that is designed to work in areas where some of these potentially explosive are handled. It has special circuitry and low temperature bulbs that will stop it from igniting any of these gases or dusts.” I pointed my flashlight at the ceiling and continued talking “It is safe to use around potentially explosive materials just like we are learning about. It has been approved by the government as well as other authorities.” I paused then said “There is only one drawback and that is it is horribly dim, but it still gets the job done. The reason why it is dim is because the bulb used in it is weaker than most and therefore shines at a temperature low enough to not cause an explosion.”
The teacher switched the projector off and demanded “What do you think you are doing?”
I replied “I thought I would give an example to the class, you know, show them how this material is practical in the real world.” The class laughed.
“You talked out of turn and disrupted my class.” She paused then said “Furthermore you have an item that is not appropriate for school. Hand it over, now.”
“But…” I said
“But what?” The teacher asked
I replied “I need that for work. Plus, it is my favorite one.”
The teacher asked, sternly “For work, what do you do?”
“I work in and around fuel tanks.” I replied. The class laughed again.
“You are sixteen years old, it is illegal for you to work in that sort of job. I am going to report you employer-unless you are making it up.” She paused then asked “Who is your employer?”
“I am not allowed to disclose that information.” I replied.
“Then you are making it up.” She said, then continued “Hand over the flashlight and I am giving you two Saturday Schools.”
The teacher took my flashlight and the whole class laughed once more.
I cussed as I was angry beyond belief.
“That’s another Saturday School young man!” The teacher shouted sternly, the class laughed once more and then the bell rang.
I was angrier than I had been in a long time. That light had a history, whether I knew what it was or not, and that hateful teacher took it from me. I sat in the rest of my classes still angry but focused on getting a new one. Finally, came recess. I logged onto the computer and did a search for a replacement Eveready 1259. I found there was a supply house in my town that was selling it for $6.99. I paid much less for my first one, but this was brand new.
“Fair enough.” I reluctantly thought to myself.
The remainder of the school day dragged on, until, finally, the bell rang. I walked out of the classroom, changed my shirt, put my books in my locker, retrieved my cell phone, took my backpack and headed on foot to the supply house. It took me over an hour to get there, but finally, I arrived. I walked in and a middle aged man greeted me with a stern look.
“May I help you young man?” He asked.
“Yes sir.” I replied, then continued “I saw on your company website that you have an Eveready 1259 in stock. I walked here a good distance, so I hope you still have it.”
“Yes, we do.” He said and continued “But what exactly do you need it for?”
I fabricated a half lie and said “I had one as a hand me down but I was showing it off in science class and the teacher took it.”
The salesman asked “Why in the hell were you showing off a flashlight in class, especially one like that. If I were you I would have wanted a much brighter flashlight to show off.”
I replied “We were learning about the auto ignition temperatures of volatile materials and I wanted demonstrate my knowledge.”
The salesman laughed and said “Well it is $6.99 plus tax.”
“I’ll take it.” I replied.
“Okay, your total is going to be $7.58, do you still want it? ” The man asked.
“Of course I do.” I said handing him my debit card. He ran it through the computers and printed me out an invoice. I also signed the store’s copy. After he handed me my new flashlight; we sat and we shot the breeze. The hands on my watch indicated 6:00 or 18:00 in the secondary numbers. The man looked at his as well.
“Well, another day is done. You better get home kid, before it gets too cold.” The man said.
I simply nodded and called my parents on my cell phone to pick me up. I waited for them to arrive in the cold January weather, but the cold temperatures here were nothing compared to the cold temperatures I had experienced on the base.