“If I Had Only Pressed It a Few Seconds Earlier, ” He/ She Moaned

“If I had only pressed it a few seconds earlier,” Tom moaned as vivid memories of the traumatic incident flashed back in his mind.
“Now that you have learnt the structure of the detonator, you have come to the most important part of the lesson…” Tom’s voice was filled with enthusiasm as he declared to the rowdy class of young recruits.   “You shall learn how to defuse a bomb.”
Tom is a second sergeant from the third battalion of the Singapore School of Combat Engineers.   He was training a class of young recruits in preparation for the upcoming “Live Firing” exercise.   “Hey you! Recruit Tan Ah Meng! Pay attention to this topic! If you cut the wrong wire, this will blow up in your face.”   Pointing to the detonator, Tom warned his class of restless students as he singled out Tan Ah Meng.
Tan Ah Meng is a eighteen year old recruit who has just graduated from a neighbourhood junior college.   He is the only son of a food stall hawker.   His mother who helps out at the food stall is most proud of her son’s latest accomplishment of three distinctions at the recent GCE A’ levels examinations.   Tan Ah Meng is a charm.   He is fun loving and has an outgoing personality. He is famous and popular among the young recruits.   As such he is often distracted by his friends as they tend to grab his attention whenever they get together in class.  
“…Now that you have dismantled the bomb, look out for the blue and red wire.   Gently untwine the wires to separate the blue and red wire, and then cut the blue wire…there, you’re done.”   While Tom was emphasizing on how to defuse a bomb, Tan Ah Meng was busy sending messages on his phone, trying to organize a class outing after the “Live Firing” exercise the next day.  
The following day, during the “Live Firing” exercise, it was Tan Ah Meng’s turn to defuse the bomb.   Tom was under a shelter several hundred meters away looking intensively through his binoculars.   His right hand was over the emergency button ever ready to...