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In the Hole

Death and taxes; we all know these are unavoidable facts of life. Now, I can add pothole to that list. This is no ordinary pothole I’m writing about. This gaping hole was a direct descendant of the Grand Canyon and it sprouted overnight. When I first spied the crater that occupied the majority of the left lane of a two lane highway, I quickly evaluated my options:

Option 1:  swerve into the right lane 

Outcome: definite property damage to two cars – potential bodily harm – almost certain lawsuit

Option 2:  stop short

Outcome:  definite property damage and bodily harm from being rear ended by the pick-up truck driving too close to me

Option 3: drive through the pothole

Outcome: definite property damage

Since Option 3 was the only choice that would not cause bodily harm, I slowed down, braced myself and hoped for the best.

As the gap in the pavement loomed closer, I realized that it was not one gigantic pothole, but rather two that were side by side, ensuring that no tire would be spared the pothole experience. It was raining and the water that filled the potholes obscured their true depth. To say that the impact of my encounter was jarring would be a gross understatement. I was wearing my seatbelt and still my head hit the roof of my car. I’m not sure, but I think I caught a glimpse of the molten core of the Earth when I was in the bottom of that pit.

Once I was back up on the pavement, I immediately moved into the right lane anticipating that I had a flat tire and would have to pull up lame on the side of the road. As I drove along slowly, I passed 8 cars with bent rims and blown tires. It was like a roadside, automotive triage area. Dozens of other cars with flat tires had made it to parking lots of the shops lining the highway. Incredibly, I did not hear the telltale thwock, thwock of a flat tire and the car seemed to be driving reasonably well. There was some shaking, but I wasn’t sure if it was from the steering wheel or my hands because of the adrenaline rush. I arrived safely at work, where I learned that 3 of my colleagues had fallen victim to the evil clutches of that pothole. I also learned that there had been 50 pothole-related calls to the police within 15 minutes. I couldn’t imagine how my car had survived this encounter unscathed.  At the end of the work day, I fully expected to find a flat tire when I returned to the car. To my great surprise, I had four fully inflated tires. That was the last of the pleasant surprises I received.

On my drive home, something was wrong.  My hands had stopped shaking, but the car had not; it had developed a shimmy. I made it home safely and described the wobble to my husband. Oregano called the mechanic and then the state Department of Transportation to report the incident and get a claim form for our impending damages. He was shocked when an actual human being answered his call. After he told the government worker the exact location of the pothole, the man responded by saying, “Oh, that one. We’ve had a lot of calls about that one today. I’ll e-mail you a claim form, but we deny 99% of the claims we receive. Good luck.” Later, as Oregano relayed this information to me, I imagined the DOT worker making a cackling, evil laugh while twirling the ends of a long, thin, black mustache, but maybe that was just the bump on my head talking.

A thorough mechanical inspection of the car revealed that the shimmy was caused by a badly bent rim which would need to be replaced before the wheels could be realigned. Until the necessary parts arrived at the mechanic’s, they moved the wobbly wheel from the front to the back of the car. The shimmy in the front was gone, but now my rear end was wiggling like a pole dancer working for extra tips.

A few days later, I noticed a thin line on my windshield. Of course, when I first saw it I deluded myself into thinking that a spider had strung a web across the left side of my windshield while it sat in the garage overnight. It didn’t take long before I came to the realization that I had an 18-inch crack in my windshield. A close inspection revealed a teeny, tiny ding in the glass; the kind that comes from a pebble. This little ding could have been there for months, but the impact of the pothole plunge caused this micro-chip to develop into a macro-crack that had lengthened as I drove the car. The windshield needed to be replaced. I was told the installation would take 90 minutes because I would literally be sitting there watching glue dry. When the technician brought my car around, he told me that he had cleaned all the glass and vacuumed the car. The glass sparkled in the sunlight. The windows were so clean and clear it was a wonder that birds didn’t fly into them as I drove. I don’t know if I had a contact high from inhaling glue fumes for 90 minutes, but seeing my clean, crack-free car made me ridiculously happy.

America’s crumbling infrastructure is causing my bank account to dwindle. I suppose some would say that Oregano and I did our part to help the economy by supporting local businesses. As I stood in my garage admiring four round tires and very shiny glass, I realized that because I drove in a hole, we are now in the hole for almost $800.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

44 responses »

  1. What a bummer! And an 800 bucks bummer to boot. Good to try to have a sense of humor about it. We live up in Pothole Country up here in the sticks. Oh, and we have loads of frost heaves. I remember zooming over a huge one going 50 mph and seeing my mom flying up in the air in slow-motion in the passenger seat. We both banged our heads pretty bad.

  2. Hrmph! Had you been clever enough to live in California, your car would not have sustained any damage considering the average freeway speed is 4.2 MPH, with the exception of 2AM. At that velocity, the worst that would have happened is you’d bottom out and get stuck in the pothole requiring the services of a tow truck.

  3. It sounds very terrifying! On the brightside it sounds very shiny and new!

  4. Please tell Oregano I’d love to profile him as a shelter volunteer sometime!

  5. As usual. Very funny.

  6. Do you have a picture of the said pothole? I can use it in my geology lessons about weathering and erosion. You can be our guest lecturer!

    • Sorry to inform you that I was too busy gripping the steering wheel to snap a photo. The good news for you is that as of yesterday, the pothole had reappeared. Feel free to do a drive-by and take a picture. Remember to stay in the right lane.

  7. I feel as if we could be living similar stories although you are on one end of the country and I am in the middle. Those craters known as potholes are truly dangerous.

  8. Very funny post – and so true. How annoying. (too bad you cant be compensated for all the time and effort spent dealing with the obviously well known pothole). If any thing spurs the development of personal jet packs or flying cars, lurking killer potholes will?

    • Thanks for the compliment! But, if we’re going to spur the development of better modes of transportation how about developing a teleporter like those tubes on Star Trek? Beam yourself from your home to work in minutes.

      • That’s a transport plan I can get behind. I would get my life back without my wicked commute. Teleporting with a young William Shatner might not be bad, either. 🙂

      • There’s just that pesky problem of disassembling and rearranging our bodies. When they finally figure out how to teleport people, I’ll let them try it out on other people first while they work out the kinks. Thanks for checking back in and joining the conversation.

  9. Thank goodness you are ok! That sounds terrifying. Also: “now my rear end was wiggling like a pole dancer working for extra tips”…priceless. Thanks for turning a harrowing (and expensive) experience into a great story for the rest of us.

    • Thanks! I’m glad I survived uninjured to tell the tale and amuse you 🙂 It was such a weird feeling of helplessness seeing that pothole getting closer and knowing I couldn’t do anything to avoid hitting it.

  10. You are too funny, Pap. Loved this post. We have potholes, even in sunny NC, that sprout overnight, but they pale in comparison to yours. Molten core, indeed!

    • Thanks, Melanie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post so much. When I write some of those lines I think they are funny, but I’m never quite sure if my readers will think they are funny. Thanks for the reassurance 🙂

  11. Sounds like the potholes we have in Pennsylvania! Well written post!

  12. Sorry for the damage– glad the pothole didn’t swallow you up entirely!

  13. “The shimmy in the front was gone, but now my rear end was wiggling like a pole dancer working for extra tips.” Still wiping the tears of laughter away.

    Sorry about the trauma and the expense but thanks for starting my day with a good laugh.

  14. Bunny Mateosian

    Really funny descriptions… one of my favorite tales to date! Love reading your adventures as you go through life and look forward to each new post!

  15. At first I was excited about reading your latest commentary, thinking that you were finally going to expand upon my favorite topic, golf…..that your title referred to the location of Tiger’s ball after his last putt on the final green in
    his latest tournament and that you were going to judge the sports world’s reaction to this most recent victory–the first since what seems like forever. But, alas, my enthusiasm was quickly dissipated before finishing the first sentence. Nevertheless, I begrudgingly stuck with it, and as usual, you captured my interest by presentling an incident near and dear to so many commuters who negotiate the infamous Route 22 each day. Fortunately, I jump on that highway a mere mile beyond what you described as the “Seventh Wonder” of Somerset County. Again, thank you for a most enjoyable article.

    • I’m so glad my tale was amusing enough to help you recover from your initial disappointment. You did manage to sneak some golf commentary in there with your comment so all is not lost 🙂 Thanks for not giving up on me even though the story wasn’t about golf.

      I’m happy to report that the “Seventh Wonder” of Somerset County was filled in that same afternoon. We’ll have to find another wonder to add to the list.

  16. So glad to hear that you came through the pot hole without injury! Isn’t it amazing what car repairs can cost? That little accident my husband had ended up being over $3000. We about fainted. Thank goodness it was the other guy’s fault and he had insurance. Having someone with insurance run into us is actually a fairly novel experiance!

  17. Great writing on this one, very funny.

  18. Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of fateful trip…sorry for your car but oh so thankful Paprika lives to blog another day:)

  19. Wow I can’t imagine what it was like to go thru that size of a pothole! But again your humourous perspective of such a scary experience made me laugh. Hopefully you’ll get some reimbursement from the government……. Thanks for sharing….. and helping out the economy……


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