Snook: The Asphalt Minefield

By: Snook

Howyagettinon? Long time, no words from me, eh boy? Just been hunkered down, squirreled away all winter, I suppose. But ah – here we are, now … springtime. Thank God. Took forever, of course (as per), but always right welcome. Like some kinda prize, it is – like some goodie you ordered months ago, almost forgot about, but finally shows up in the mail. Sweet. Rip it open, do a little dance, giggle a little tune. Heaven, sir. Some wicked.

Holy side-wall

Of course, it can’t all be happiness, the spring. That’s just not how the world works, right? You got to have some downside, sure, that counters the bliss somewhat. Y’know, so you don’t explode from an overdose of joy. You know  – some sand in your ice cream. A bit of burn-taste on your pea soup. And one of the drawbacks of spring is … potholes. 

That’s right, yes sir. The boobytraps of the asphalt minefield. All kinds, and all over the place, too. Keep you on your toes, and your tires off your rims. Holy side-wall.

Now, Dougie and I used to be all about the potholes. Right into the issue, we were. We’d grade them out of ten, sometimes, and maybe even give each of them names. We knew they’d be around long enough to build relationships with, so it wasn’t a waste of time or imagination. “Madge” on Monkstown Road was an 8.5, and she’d come back every year – regardless of what City workers might try. “Larry” on Lakeside always started as a 2.5. but quickly grew to a 9, no matter what. “Lucifer” of LeMarchant, on the other hand, always appeared suddenly, full blown, as a 10. No warning. And I mean fast, too. Sure, he could happen between your front and rear tire as you travelled across ground zero. Magic.

And then we’d come up with some games to play with these famous craters. Dodge the Pot. Count the Cups. Guess the Deepness. That sort of thing. Sometimes, we’d set up folding chairs on the sidewalk next to the hole, and rate cars on how hard they hit it – kinda like figure skating judges. A slight smack, with slow braking action, might get a 4.6. A full-tilt whack could register a full 7. If a hubcap came off, or a proper knock caused a flat tire… ho-ly. That was a 10. Might even get a standing ovation from us too. Perhaps a few ‘we-are-not-worthy’ bows.


Of course, we managed to collect a few hubcaps to sell too. Dougie’s Mudder was a chronic re-offender, and we eventually got all four of her hubcaps one year. We gave her a decent deal on them back – family discount. Got to be fair, right?

There were times we followed around the poor crews sent out to mend these nightmares too, and this could make for the most fun of all. The boys were classic crusty curmudgeons, right? Saucy as they come, sir. No doubt all the public abuse they got, and the pure futility of the job, caused it. 

Five or six City lads would all be leaning on their tools, like you would, and drivers would shout stuff like, “Slackards!”, or “Packin’ some putty for the weekend, are we, boys?” These guys got it all the time. They’d just stare back and take another drag on their smokes. Or if their hands weren’t in their pockets, they might indicate to the hecklers where their privates could be found. Pricelessly cool under fire. Always admired that. You could almost smell the indifference. None of them really knew how to properly fix a pothole anyway – or cared. 

Cure the crisis

Besides, if they ever were to cure the crisis, they would be out of work, right? That’s what Newfoundland road-decay is, really – employment insurance. Nature giveth, effort taketh away. So what odds, sure? The stuff they patched the holes with may as well have been shoe polish anyway. Wax on, wax off. Boom – back again by break time. Worse than ever. Perfect.

Ah spring, you are so ripe with memories. May your promise ever return, like the reliable birth of Madge. I think I’ll go out and visit her right now. See if I can pop a hubcap. Right on!

Snook can be reached by emailing: [email protected] … Right on!

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