Tuesday, around lunch I walked out to my balcony in my pajamas to enjoy the light rain. It was fairly quiet – no cars, no barking dogs, and no kids. The only thing I heard was a nail gun. I looked to the left past the end of my building and I saw a man in a hard-hat standing on a high-pitched garage roof nailing roofing paper with a nail gun. It seemed like he was quickly trying to get the job done before it rained any harder.
He was working from right to left with a roll and he was probably 90 percent done. I was fascinated by the sound of the gun and was fixated at how quick he was getting the job done.
All of a sudden he fell to the right and he threw the gun to the side so he could stop his fall with both hands and feet. Unfortunately, the roof and probably his boots were very wet and he continued to slide downward.
Next thing I knew he was falling off the bottom edge of the roof and onto the ground. He ended up almost flat down on his stomach, with his left shoulder and arm taking the brunt of the fall. I heard the thud of his body and the higher pitch of his hard-hat initially hitting the ground and the distinct hollow sound each time his hat bounced away from him.
I was frozen in place on my balcony – not believing what I was seeing. I said to myself several times “Did he just fall off the roof?” Each time I responded with “No, way”. It was almost like I was in shock – not knowing quite what to do.
He yelled out and three of his crew inside the garage, maybe 15 feet away, came to his aid. Then he stood up and started walking around. He favored his left side, holding the bicep area with his other hand as though he was in excruciating pain. I first thought he broke his arm. He kept walking around, probably in shock himself.
There have been many times I have witnessed things in my life, like someone in a car accident or a kid falling off a bike or someone passing out due to heat exhaustion and I seemed to take those earlier events in stride – reflexively acting more reflexively and offering immediate help – but this time – this time was different.
Maybe it is because I initially feared he was dead and there would be nothing I could do – after all he had fellow workers there. Then when I saw him get up and his friends were by his side, I also knew I could do nothing more than they could.
Shortly later, they drove off in a pickup truck – probably to get him x-rays and to probably fill out accident forms.
I have reviewed my mental image of the event several times the past two days and I still cannot understand why I did not run downstairs and over to the work site.
I guess we never know how we are going to respond to a given situation.