Burning That Life-Lesson Into You

| The Netherlands | Learning | May 20, 2017

(In chemistry class, we have to heat different chemicals in a small metal cup over a bunsen-burner and note the results. I put the first chemical in the cup, heat it until a reaction occurs, turn off the bunsen-burner, and turn around to write down the results. I’m a day-dreamer, and like most days I’m not really there, so when I turn back around to put a new chemical in the cup, I forget that cup has just been above a flame, and pick it up WITH MY BARE FINGERS. Of course, the result is a yelp and a sprint to the sink to put my painful fingers under cold water. The teacher comes up to me and asks what happened; I tell him, rather sheepishly, and he shakes his head.)

Teacher: “There is a pair of tongs specifically meant for picking up hot things on every work station. Why didn’t you use that?”

Me: *embarrassed* “Uhm, I forgot.”

Teacher: *with another head-shake* “You know, I’ve been teaching chemistry for about twenty years now, and this is the first time anyone has burned their fingers on one of those cups. People burn their fingers on glass all the time, but no-one ever burnt their fingers on one of those cups in my class.”

(I sit down feeling like an idiot, but my stupidity isn’t over yet. I continue with the assignment, but also with my day-dreaming, put a new chemical in the cup, heat it again until a new reaction occurs, turn the bunsen-burner off again, turn around again to take a new note, turn back around, and REACH FOR THE CUP WITH MY STILL-BARE FINGERS. Luckily, this time, the teacher notices what I’m about to do, and grabs my wrist.)

Teacher: “What do you think you’re doing?”

Me: *confused* “Pick up the cup?”

Teacher: “Look closely.”

(I look at the cup and see it’s literally RED HOT on one side. Realizing the mistake I was about to make (again), I look up at the teacher.)

Me: “Uhm, yeah, no…”

Teacher: “So what are you going to do now?”

Me: “Use the tongs?”

Teacher: “Very good.”

(He released my wrist and I continued the assignment without further incident, having learned my lesson and leaving the day-dreams for English class.)

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