SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Did you hear about the pothole that swallowed Cleveland?
It spit the city back out. Thought it didn’t have good taste.
Actually, a few years ago I wrote a story inspired by a news report I read, in which a hole opened up and really did swallow an entire intersection in Cleveland. Cleveland residents will tell you nobody beats them for potholes, by any measure: depth, width, hang-time while falling into it …
But everyone else in every other community across the country, large and small, will make the same claim. Potholes are a nationwide problem, like politicians, Obamacare, and bobbleheads. (I can’t help it, they freak me out. Bobbleheads, too.)
Potholes happen due to fatigue. No, not the driver: the road surface develops a crack, and the cracks form a pattern called crocodile cracking. At that point crocodile skin is stronger than the pavement, so the cracks spread until the pressure of passing vehicles pops whole areas loose. They’re usually made worse by large temperature changes, so around here they’re a winter and spring thing. But like politicians, potholes can pop up anywhere, anytime, and cause great damage.
I know it seems like I’m poking a lot of fun at politicians, but in this case there are many similarities between them and potholes: They both cost money, and both have seasons in which they appear more often. Both cause people to curse and demand something be done about them, but most people never actually do anything to fix things themselves.
In some parts of the country potholes are called kettles or chuckholes, and there are other things they’re called that I can’t repeat here. (See above about people cursing.) I don’t know who chuck is, but he must be extremely unpopular.
In the end the only people who like potholes are those who collect hubcaps.
At some point potholes become sinkholes; I suppose that’s when they get through all the road stuff and reach the things that used to be there before the road. There have been cases where people have driven into sinkholes, only to find old Indian burial grounds. I don’t need to tell you that’s not good karma.
But let’s stick to potholes. They’re bad enough by themselves: A pothole on a county road near Huntertown could be seen from space. A pothole on an Albion side street was used for location shooting in an Indiana Jones movie. A pothole on US 33 in Churubusco once swallowed an entire marching band.
(The brave band kept playing, and the echo effect so impressed the parade judges that the band was awarded first place in the three feet down or lower category.)
The good news is that there are ways to repair potholes. The bad news is that the material most often used in repairing potholes consists of toothpaste and ground up material made of former Lady Gaga outfits. (Ironically, her outfits often do make me say “Gah!”)
Experts say Colgate holds up longer, but Sensodyne doesn’t hurt as much when you hit it.
Actually, the main problem with patching potholes isn’t the material, it’s the time. The throw-and-go method takes the least amount of time, and lasts the least amount of time. I think the name would tend to suggest that.
There’s also the throw and roll, which my brother and I used to do until my mom got tired of buying bandages and made us stop. It takes about two minutes more per pothole, which doesn’t seem bad until you get a big outbreak (think teenage acne) and crews are filling them as fast as compact cars can disappear.
The other time is the time of year: No matter how they’re patched, repairs don’t hold up as well in the winter as they do in the summer. That being the case, road repair crews often don’t even try to make permanent repairs during bad weather – they just want it to hold up until some other poor sap has to deal with it when the weather gets better Unfortunately, unless they’re job-hoppers, the first poor sap often has to deal with the same hole more than once.
So what can we fill potholes with that will do the job but be more permanent? We can’t use politicians – their spines aren’t stiff enough.
After a great deal of thought, I’ve solved the problem. I came up with something that never deteriorates, something harder than asphalt, and something that is in plentiful supply in winter, right when it’s needed most: