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South Texas Living


Consequences of poor planning




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March 9, 2016 | 997 views | Post a comment

“The Bricklayer’s Accident Report,” an excerpt from Why Patty’s Not At Work Today, told by Gerard Hoffnung at the Oxford Union, Dec. 4, 1958:

Dear Sir: I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put “Poor Planning” as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust 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 found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which 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 bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 240 lbs. of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 135 lbs.

Due to my surprise at 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 rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel, which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley, which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight. 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 accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth, and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope.

[Proverbs 1:1-7; 3:5-8] Most likely the preceding story is simply an urban legend and we laugh at the accidental “poorly planned” end to the bricklayer’s day. Have you planned well for the end of your life? The story can be related to the ups and downs of life with its directional changing crises that keep blindsiding us. It’s commonly said, “watch out,” when things are going well in life. And if you’re trying to manage the troubles and trials of life all by yourself, the sheer weight of it will cause you to lose your composure and presence of mind (Matthew 6:25-34).

When the bricklayer came to his senses and let go of the rope, he still had a bad end to his day coming down on him. When you let go of the world, what will you see coming at you? God’s wrath or love?

Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at twbonham@hotmail.com. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
 

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