Thomas Jefferson

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The Path to Pipehood

Posted 11/27/2023 by Akaash Raghunath

Janet and Barney - pictured here in their traditional reddish-brown attire - were more than happy to recount their thrilling adventures for a TJ interviewer. photo by Farah Djama

Two of the newest members of the TJ community, copper pipes Janet and Barney, reveal the difficulties of travel as a pure element.

One crisp autumn day in late October, twenty-five newspaper students entered their classroom the same as they always had. It wasn’t long before the students noticed a strange and sudden new addition to their classroom: two brand new copper pipes had been installed just above their teacher’s desk.

Thomas Jefferson High School has been attempting to install air conditioning for several years now, so initial thoughts suggested that the pipes likely had something to do with that endeavor. This claim was further supported by the fact that the pipes were seemingly hooked up to the large metal filtration box that was built into the ceiling. Additionally, copper is highly non-reactive, similar to silver or – to a lesser extent – gold. Due to this low chemical activity, copper tends to last much longer as a cooling unit than a more corrosive metal such as iron or aluminum. Given that copper is much easier to come by than solid gold, it is widely used in transport pipes for various substances, including air.

Given this information, it was concluded that the pipes were more than likely to be used as a transportation duct for a future air conditioning system. However, there was no way to confirm this, and so the newspaper students were left to wonder if that truly was their intended purpose.

With no concrete evidence, the students instead turned to their primary sources: the pipes themselves. Interviews were conducted in order to definitively determine conclusions about the pipes, and, fortunately, the newest members of room 109 were more than happy to oblige. As it would turn out, the pipes – named Janet and Barney – were originally uncovered in the great Escondida Mine in Chile, where they were at first naught more than sad lumps of copper sulfide. However, upon their excavation, these copper congealments were shipped off to a factory near Copiapó, where they underwent the viscous process of pyrometallurgy. “It was so hot, I couldn’t even think,” Barney complained. “It felt like I was melting.” The ores were tossed into an intense series of specialized furnaces where they experienced violent chemical changes, resulting in a final purity of 99.99% percent. “I’d never felt better,” Janet commented. “It felt real nice to be a true piece of copper, through and through.”

It was at this point that this fresh, new pair of copper chunks decided that they wanted to do more with their lives. With their newfound desire to travel across the world, Barney and Janet quickly found themselves shipped off to the capital of Uzbekistan, where they were welded together into a coat hanger for a nice Uzbek family. “It was certainly an interesting feeling, being attached to Barney,” Janet admitted. “But I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it.” The copper coat hanger lived happily in Tashkent for just over four years, until the family began struggling financially. With no other options, they were forced to move out, with many of their possessions being forcefully seized in the process. Among them was a copper coat hanger, which was sent to eastern Latvia to be recycled. According to the pipes, losing one another was a constant fear, especially during the recycling process where the two were melted down and re-fused repeatedly. “I was terrified I’d lose Janet somewhere along the way,” Barney commented. Fortunately for the pair, they found each other once again, and were molded into the solid, copper pipes we know today.

Shortly afterwards, however, the pipes found themselves on the move yet again, this time boarding a shipping boat across the Atlantic Ocean. After a lengthy trip (“with seasickness aplenty,” chuckled Janet), the pipes arrived in the big apple itself: New York City. Despite the constant demand for new water pipes in such a bustling metropolis, not every pipe can find easy employment. Thus, many pips were packaged up and tossed into trucks which would carry them across the country. 

As it happened, Barney and Janet were taken all the way to Denver, Colorado, where they would finally find a place to settle down. After just a couple of weeks, the pipes were installed in the CCT hallway here at Thomas Jefferson High School. A few days following their arrival, the pipes were fitted with a brand new insulating outfit. “I adore the way that gorgeous, white color brings out my eyes,” Janet gushed. The pipes also spoke about how much they loved it here in Denver, evidently hoping to finally settle down for good. “I do still love traveling,” Janet said. “But we gotta find a spot to settle down at some point, no?” The pipes also confirmed that they were indeed tasked with maintaining the air conditioner. After a wild life of adventure, the pair is now quite content to spend the rest of their days pumping air throughout the school in their brand new, aluminum home in room 109 (once the system is actually finished, of course). “I’ll be oxidized before I even think about stepping foot in another shipping container!” Barney exclaimed. Of course, we in the TJ community are overjoyed to welcome such wonderful pipes to our school, and we sincerely hope they’re here to stay, for now, and for always.