Lost Presence of Mind

A man submitted a claim for numerous injuries, but all that he put on the claim form was “lost presence of mind.” Because of the size of the claim, the insurance company requested more information. The man gave the following response:

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in block number 3, with reference to my accident where I put “lost presence of mind” as to the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust these details will suffice. 

I’m a bricklayer by trade, and on the day of the accident, I was working on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I discovered I had about 600lbs of bricks left over. Rather than carry them down by hand, I decided to lower them down 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 on the roof, swung the barrel up, and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back down to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 600lbs of bricks. You will note in block number 11 of the reporting form that I weigh 135lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked up off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and I 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 and this explains the fractured skull and the broken collar bone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep in the pulley — and this explains the lacerations on my right hand. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and I was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my great pain. 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 50lbs. I refer you again to my weight of 135lbs in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building, and in the vicinity of the third floor I met the barrel coming up — and this accounts for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations of my leg and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me down and lessened my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks — and fortunately only three vertebrate were broken. I’m sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks, in pain, unable to stand, looking up at the empty barrel six stories above me, again I lost my presence of mind and I let go of the rope.