“I was walking along, minding my business, enjoying the tropical day . . . ,” it sounded like the lines of a song I once used to know, so he had my attention, “when all of a sudden, out of the blue, a huge pane of glass exploded onto the footpath a few metres in front of me.” Now I was really listening!
“To say I was shocked is putting it mildly.” He continued, “In fact, the distinct smell of loosened bowels assailed my nostrils and I wasn’t sure if it was mine or my fellow pedestrians.”
I smiled, but quickly reverted to a serious mien; he wasn’t smiling, I could tell he was still traumatised by the event.
“Was anyone killed?” I asked – well, it’s the sort of thing that immediately springs to mind. A window falling from its frame way up high in a multi-story building . . . surely.
“That’s the funny thing,” he did smile then, a curious, bemused smile. “The footpath was crowded. It’s Singapore for goodness sake. The footpath is always crowded. But for some strange reason, the window missed everyone – a gap in the throng. Curious. Oh, there were minor injuries. People panicked, pushing each other over in their haste to get clear away from what may have been a bomb blast – people are tuned to think ‘terrorist attack’ and easily panic. Me? I was numbed by the event, a bit slow to move, in fact. Not used to this sort of thing happening, though I was in a position to see it wasn’t a bomb blast.”
This guy’s story was amazing. Here I was having a quiet coffee, and this bloke, seeing I’m a tourist, starts to unload his story on me. And me, a glazier! We started to discuss our experiences in the Far East. Singapore is one of the most stable countries around. But, it turns out that in the last five months they have had fifteen windows fall out of high-rise buildings. Amazing. It is something I have pondered before; well you do, don’t you. All that curtain wall glass up in those buildings and all those pedestrians going about their business below, secure in the knowledge that . . . His experience made me feel proud of the Australian building standards, especially those of the glass and glazing industry. But from then on, for the rest of my stay, I walked on the road where I could, keeping a wary eye out.