PUBLISHED EVERY MONDAY: (This “bricklayer” story has made the rounds on the Internet many times. Years ago it was featured on Garrison Keillor’s radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion”, but the story is quite a bit older than that. One of its earliest sightings was in the 1902 book “At Home With the Jardines, where it appeared as “A Letter From Jimmie”.)
RE: Accident Report
I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number 3 of the accident reporting form, I put “trying to do the job alone” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient:
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which, fortunately, was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.
Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the brick into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tight to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks.
You will note, in block number 11 of the accident reporting form, that I weigh 135 pounds.
Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.
At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom broke out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately fifty pounds.
I refer you again to my weight in the accident reporting form, block number 11.
As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounted for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations on my legs and lower body.
The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks, and fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks in pain, unable to stand, and watching the empty barrel six stories above me… I again lost my presence of mind… and let go of the rope!
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