Freak vending machine accident

Pretty much by definition, freak accidents don’t happen every day. Particularly freak accidents involving exploding vending machines that expel poisonous gas.

Yes, freak accidents involving exploding vending machines that happen, through the wonders of happy coincidence, to produce something like phosgene gas (used in WWI as a chemical warfare agent)—these aren’t things that happen every day.

But, you know. They happen. Not very often, but they happen.

Exploding vending machines—these are things we have to live with.

“The vending machine I was working on…”
“Well, there’s a problem.”
“What’s that?”
“It exploded.”
“Not the whole thing, of course. Not a violent explosion or anything, just a minor internal explosion. A small fire.”
“Well, are you okay?”
“I think so. I’m a little dizzy, though.”
“Dizzy? Do you need to sit down?”
“Is the machine still on fire?”
“Oh… right. I… I don’t think so. …I—”
“My throat burns, just a little bit.”
“Why don’t you sit down.”
“I don’t feel so well.”
“Good God, man… I think you’ve been exposed to phosgene gas.”
“But… how?”
“You see, when the fire contacted the freon from the cooling system, it must have somehow, through the wonders of chemistry, transformed it into phosgene.”
“My vision’s a little blurry.”
“We’ve got to evacuate.”
“Before it’s too late.”

(Reuters: “Here’s Something That Doesn’t Happen Every Day…” [June 25, 2004])