Accident Report..You think you are having a bad day??

25 12 2011

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information.  In block #3 of the accident reporting form, I put “trying to do the job alone” as the cause of the accident.  You said in your letter I should explain more fully, and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade.  On the date of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building.  When I completed my work, I discovered 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 onto 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 tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of brick.  You will note in block #11 of the accident report 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 collar bone.

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 the pain.  At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel.  Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighs about 50 pounds.

I refer you again to my weight in block #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 accounts 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 — again I lost my presence of mind, and let go of the rope.  The empty barrel weighed more than the rope, so it came back down on me and broke both of my legs.

I hope I have furnished the information you require as to how the accident occurred.

Tracing the origin of this tale is quite interesting… may want to trace a few of these threads.

–For a history of the origin of this tale see

–For a funny animated version of this on Youtube see

–For   Gerard Hoffnung version called Bricklayers Lament see

—For the “The Sick Note”  Sean Cannon – The Dubliners singing a version see

—For the Mythbusters version start with