Our nation's leaders may be up to their rhetoric in freshly fallen snow - but here in the Piedmont, we're moving on. You know what that means: Pothole Watch. Seems those jagged gaps in the blacktop are of towering import these days, what with the Superbowl over. Actually the smotherage of said pavement patches are as much a winter tradition as riots in the bread aisle. I don't know how you news crew roll in Buffalo, but here in the contiguous Southeast, we top off a good snowstorm with two or three days of intense hand-wringing... Will the Earth open up and swallow our city whole? Could your kids school bus get sucked into a crevasse? How DO you get drive-thru coffee out of real Corinthian Leather? Yes, it's a veritable telethon, but reporting on Pavement Quake 2010 is about as earth-shattering as covering a hole in the ground.
Not that your average news crew craves excitement. We get plenty of that. It's just pointing lenses at a future mud puddle carries with it a certain indignity. Don't believe me? Bum-rush an asphalt patch crew and tell them you need to shoot video of them working. They'll let you, but it's awfully hard to feel good about your career path when the guy with the bucket of highway sludge thinks your job is stupid. Still, ours is not to judge, so Emmy Award winning Chad Tucker and I tried to give it our finest effort - it being Monday and all. First we hunted down the City Worker in Charge of Filling Potholes and Fending Off News Crew. I'm not sure if that's what his business card say, but a guy I know only as Dwight spent much of the morning answering our questions, wrangling work crews and rolling his eyes. Not always in that order. Then again, when you have a half dozen journalists phoning you with breathless queries about crumbles in the infrastructure, a little sarcasm is all but required.
Undue confession: Chad and I bagged on our assignment too. It's hard not to when your utilizing thousands of dollars in electronic equipment to get to the bottom of a four inch ditch. And while I'd like to apologize to the minivan mom who found my roadside presence so distracting (Eyes on the road, lady!) and to that pedestrian who asked me what was going on (Foghat is NOT reuniting), I for one harbor no remorse towards the gang-bangers who nearly stopped my heart with their ill-timed horn blast and indecipherable knuckle language (Hey, I don't roll up in your workspace and spotlight the bodybags... Oh wait -- I do!) Hmmm, where was I? Oh yeah, complaining about Pothole Watch. Wouldn't my talents be better served examining the human condition or at least chasing a dog in a funny hat? I mean, c'mon producers, who really gives a rip about some hole in the road anyway?
What's that? Folks are flocking to our website to report their own potholes? Newsrooms phones are ringing? In-boxes are flooding? Servers are crashing? Rating diaries are being rewritten?
Forget I mentioned it...