I’M A SUCKER FOR Potholes!

By admin
11 October 2013

I don’t know about the rest of SA, but here in the Eastern Cape we have a small pothole problem. It’s not the size of the potholes that are small, but rather the strips of road that you can actually drive on between them.

BotheredByBees on Flickr

It’s become so bad preschoolers no longer use their dads for bragging rights, but instead boast about the hole in front of their driveway. “My pothole is bigger than yours.” “Well mine is deeper, so there!” Eavesdrop on any small talk and sooner or later the dreaded “P” word will come up. It’s a given.

Honestly though, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’m actually quite fond of them. Now before you start mailing me your tyre-repair bills, hear me out. There are definite benefits to driving on potholed roads.

For one thing, long trips are no longer boring. You know those stretches of road that meander along with mind-numbing predictability? The kind that lull you into a nap on your comfy steering wheel, soothed by the hum of the tyres on smooth tar . . . Throw in a dozen potholes and by the time you get to where you’re going, you’ll not only be wide awake, but there’ll be so much adrenalin pumping through your system you’ll feel like a rally driver. One standing on the podium spraying champagne over the adoring masses. You just don’t get that on a fixed road.

Potholes are also great for sharpening your reflexes. Kids play computer games. Us big people? We drive holey roads. This is especially true in heavy traffic where the road ahead is being all sneaky and hiding out beneath a few hundred cars. Under these conditions, the challenge is to keep a safe following distance (in the hopes you’ll see the hole before feeling it) yet not allow the gap to grow big enough to let the cheeky overtaker from the right-hand lane in. This is something of a higher art that will elevate your driving skills to a new level.

Thanks to the craters down our main road, we get to drive slalom style. Every day. Twice. Weaving back and forth is especially fun if you crank up the volume on your car radio and swerve in time to the music. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll be hooked. You’ll never want to drive straight again.

For those adrenalin junkies who live for thrills ? drive a holey road after a downpour. I’m talking undercover potholes, deviously masquerading as reliable road surfaces. With the puddle level at road-height, there are two ways of sussing out where the tar cavities are. Memory or hope. If your memory is good, you should be able to dodge and change lanes at just the right times like Sean Connery avoiding the blasting flames in the underground tunnels of Alcatraz. If your memory isn’t so good, you may well pop a tyre. Hope is a lot simpler. You drive and hope. If hope fails you . . . you get the picture.

If you want to brighten up your neighbourhood, potholes can easily be transformed into objects of beauty. One creative East Londoner planted a tree in the pothole in her home street. I thought it looked really pretty. Pothole gardens . . . what a novel way to upgrade the aesthetics of our city. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered she’d done it in protest. Apparently planting is the new picketing in our green society. Who knew?

Reflexes and aesthetics aside, who am I trying to kid? In the glass-half-empty world of ripped rubber, I’m the first to admit potholes truly are the pits. They make punctures, shred wheels and cause accidents. They jiggle our teeth loose as we drive, trash our suspension and shoot slivers of grey through our hair. Much like bunnies, they multiply when left to their own devices, grow like cavities at kids parties and can swallow half your monthly budget in one fell tyre-popping swoop.

On the bright side? It’s like doing your advanced driver’s course for free. If we’re lucky, those in power will recognise this fact and issue us official Qualified Pothole Driver certificates.

By Di Wilson

  • Di Wilson is a freelance journalist, novelist and mom of three girls.

Picture: Flickr - BotheredByBees

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