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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hammer Principle

Don't worry, this isn't a throwback to MC Hammer's hit, U Can't Touch This.

This is about my brush with death yesterday. And it still feels unreal, after having had almost a full day of viewing it from the perspective of the immediate past.

(Photo courtesy of

I suppose it's because the manner and the time it took for the entire event to be consummated was over in mere seconds.

Having conducted a private class for a client, I decided to walk over to the bank three buildings away from where I was. Lugging around that enormous mat I used for work was only slightly neutralized by the use of comfortable sandals. As we were in an area that was well-established, with more projects "in development" (I didn't there there would be any more parcels of land to do so, but never underestimate determined real estate companies), one of the buildings I had to pass by was in such a "developmental" stage.

I remember making a mental note of avoiding the immediate "work area" on the sidewalk where the construction workers were mixing water with cement. I am an honorary member of the Order of the Sprain, and my ankle wobbly stands as a testament to the amount of excruciating pains I have had to endure over the years as a result of the excessive pronation it seems to enjoy (?) like a heat seeking projectile. Seeing any uneven surface makes me instantly wary of an impending sprain. (Which is also the reason I have never been bitten by the running bug that has all but swept the metro, nor will I be mountain climbing anytime soon - two activities that enjoy terrain that is both rugged and rustic.)

Having sidestepped the cement obstacle, I now came to a narrow path that was framed by a large acacia tree on the left, and a ladder leading up to the constructed building on the right. I remember looking up to the building and seeing the makeshift "roof", a safety precaution in case objects might fall on unsuspecting pedestrians.

As I was passing at the point right in between the tree and the ladder, I then heard - and felt - a thundering BOOG! 

I'm sure my stunned state was in milliseconds, but it felt like an underwater scene as I saw what caused the sound.

A large, worn-out hammer fell on the concrete sidewalk, not more than 2 inches from my right foot.

I looked up, and saw that it came from the worker at the top of the ladder propped against the building, under the "safety roof". He had on a shirt that was wrapped around his face, so all I could see were his eyes.

Eyes that refused to acknowledge what had just happened. He merely shrugged - if it had been his voice, that shrug was clear and audible, no mistake - then he refused to go down to get the hammer and just stayed at the top, pretending to be occupied with something-or-other.

I had an intense desire to pull the ladder towards the road. I thought ahead of the evidence of his splattered body in a well-known street and I decided against it.

The security guard in the next building (beside the bank I was going to) witnessed the whole thing, and was just as amazed that the worker didn't bother apologizing. He hollered to the idiot in my stead: "Hoy! Dahan dahan ka sa mga kagamitan mo! Makakapatay ka ng tao kapag tumama yang martilyo sa ulo ng mga dumadaan!"

I think I was in a trance while depositing in the bank right after.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. I knew I ran a million errands, I weaved through insane traffic conditions, motorcycles sideswiped side mirrors as if they were pinball levers, things the rest of the day went lousy because I was able to only have lunch at around 4PM.

And I still had a silly grin on my face, sans my usual bitching and moaning.

It really is a matter of perspective.

If I had a piece of metallic equipment wedged in my cranium, there would be nothing left for me to bitch and moan about.

People, that is The Hammer Principle.

(And a few hours later, I heard of Hitchens passing away. Which made The Hammer Principle resonate even more.)


  1. hi joey! i am glad to know that you are safe and not harmed. the unmindful behavior of the worker is so irritating. thanks for sharing this story too. i'll be more careful next time.

  2. Hi, Velvet,

    Yes, still alive. And I thought I was safe with their "roof". No one can really be too careful.