Gems from the 'net: The Bricklayer

Thursday, September 30th 2004

(1 comment)

Over the years, there are very few forwarded humor emails that I've truly enjoyed. I mean to start collecting some of these on this site so that I can look back on them via my archives. You've likely seen this one, but you may enjoy re-reading it nonetheless.

Before I continue, let me mention that this is entirely fictional, although many of the readers of the forwarded email were certainly unaware of this.

This is a bricklayer's accident report that was printed in the newsletter of the English equivalent of the Workers' Compensation Board. This is this Bricklayer's report ... a true story.

Bricklayer's Accident Report

I am writing in response to your request for additional information for block number 3 of the accident reporting form. I put 'poor planning' as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following detail will be sufficient. I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80 foot tower. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now un-needed tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using a pulley, which was fortunately attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower. Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 300 pounds of tools. You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 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 of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my 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 onto the rope in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind, and let go of the rope.

Comments on Gems from the 'net: The Bricklayer
Comment Thursday, September 30th 2004 by tagger
This story was first told (I think) in 1958 by Gerald Hoffnung at the Oxford Union. Ray Stevens did a funny song based on this. You can hear it at
Comment on Gems from the 'net: The Bricklayer
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