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Speaking in Stories
Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers


I Let Go of the Rope

A bricklayer once sent a letter to his insurance company concerning a worker’s compensation claim. The letter follows.

“Dear Sir, I am writing in response to your request for additional information. 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 six story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had 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. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, and loaded the bricks into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks.

You will note in block number eleven of the accident report 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 fell 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 block number eleven. 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 to 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 barrel six stories above me, I again lost my presence of mind, I let go of the rope.”

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