Friday, August 19, 2011

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

In 1998 on a construction site east of London, where a school was being converted into private flats, a rather unfortunate incident occurred. The first phase had been completed, and one third of the school had been turned into flats which were already occupied.

The builders were working on the middle third of the school, and needed to remove a large slab of concrete which had formed the top landing of the central grand staircase. They decided that the best way to do this was to remove most of the slab supports, wait for all the flat occupants to go to work, clear the contractors, and remove the remaining supports, allowing the slab to drop directly to the basement.

The big day arrived. The main contractor checked to see that all of the cars had left for work, and he removed the manhole covers from the basement level. This was to spare the site and surrounding houses from the dust created by the downdraft of the slab dropping several floors, dissipating it into the sewers instead.

All non-essential contractors were told to stand clear. Labourers knocked on the flat doors to ensure that no residents were at home. The order was given, and like clockwork the slab crashed thunderously into the basement.

The main contractor expressed his relief and glee at the smooth operation, the planning, and its total success.

A few moments later, a gentleman in a soaking wet and stained dressing gown approached and began to remonstrate with him. He had stayed home that day with a case of diarrhea, and was perched on his loo, which happened to be just on the other side of the wall where the slab descended.

At this point, bear in mind that the manhole covers were open, and the slab as expected had acted like an enormous bicycle pump and blasted air into the sewers as it fell. The same sewers attached to the drainpipe that serviced the gentleman’s loo.

The water and its turgid contents were launched skywards in an arc described as a "fount of cess" by the upset man in the dressing gown, who was drenched with the contents.

Source: Darwin Awards


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