The View From the Bottom
BY Gary Newhook
YOU KNOW HIM. Everyone who drives in the St. John’s Metro knows him. You’ve cursed at him a million times. You’ve called Open Line about him. You’ve tweeted about him. Now, at long last, you have the chance to meet him.
Newfoundland Quarterly Magazine is proud to present a groundbreaking interview with the North East Avalon’s most despised resident: the pothole on the Commonwealth Avenue Overpass on Pitt’s Memorial Drive.
What’s the hardest part about being a pothole?
PH: Everyone is just so mad at you for existing, you know? It’s like, I didn’t ask to be born. One day a snow plow hooked a loose piece of pavement and here I am. I’m just fulfilling my natural niche, like a coyote or a moose. I didn’t get any choice in the matter.
So you feel people are maybe a little unfair toward potholes?
PH: Totally. I just live here. You’re the one that ran me over and then you’re cursing me out. Let’s be honest here, if you’re taking your date downtown in a Pontiac Sunfire, you’re probably not getting laid anyway. Don’t blame the pothole. I’m an innocent bystander.
How have potholes—not just you, potholes as a collective—addressed the prejudice that you face on the roadways?
PH: Well, late last year we all got together and formed a blockade on the TCH out by Salmonier Line. We shut the whole thing down for a week. I figured, “Hey maybe a little trip down to Holyrood would get people to change their ways.” I really thought it was working. It was all over the news, but everyone’s already forgotten.
What do you say to people who say, you know, “Potholes are a nuisance. The government should just fill them all in?”
PH: This is where the hypocrisy really comes in. When someone says, “Club all the seals!” Greenpeace speaks up. When someone says, “The moose are a hazard to highway traffic. Let’s shoot them all!” someone speaks up and says “That moose has a right to live” or “That moose fulfills an important environmental role in our ecosystem.” When someone says, “Let’s fill in all the potholes,” nobody speaks up for us. Nobody talks about our role in the provincial economy.
What is your role in the provincial economy?
PH: Say you hit a pothole and bend your rim, where do you go?
PH: That’s right. You take your car to a garage or tire shop, and that creates jobs and keeps money moving through Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy, so it doesn’t get stagnant. Not only that, but when someone from outside the province visits and hits a pothole, they spend money here. That’s new money coming into the provincial economy.
When is it appropriate to fill in a pothole?
PH: We’re not trying to say you can never, ever fill in a pothole, but at least wait until a pothole reaches its natural end of life. We’re just asking that you not call for the mass genocide of our kind. That would be great.
What do you hope people reading this will take away from this conversation?
PH: We’re just like you. We’re stuck in a rut, and we think we deserve better because we all think we have more depth than our peers, but the reality is, we are hollow and in the end nothing makes us happier than a nice, fast sports car.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.
PH: Thanks for having me. Now if you excuse me, there’s a couple of Goodyears coming around the bend with my name on them.
You can read more of Gary Newhook’s work here. Want to contact our artist, Kevin Kendall? Check out his bio.