Pot Luck

It’s been a while since I last whined wrote about my old nemesis, the OMGSNOW, and that’s because, as luck would have it, we’ve been experiencing non-stop rain for the past week or so, which has washed all of the white stuff away – yay!

The snow has, however, left its calling card behind, in the shape of the kazillionty-one pot holes that have opened up all over the roads. Now, the roads here aren’t great at the best of times. They’re not like the roads you find in America, say, which are built to withstand years of use by actual cars, and trucks, and other vehicles. No, over here they basically just put down whatever crappy surface they can find, then shrug their shoulders and go, “Meh. We’ll have to repair it again in two week’s time, and it’ll have more holes than the surface of the moon after the first bad frost, but who cares? By then everyone will be so busy Twittering about the pritty, pritty snow that they won’t even notice…”

Terry and I came face to face with one of these potholes on Saturday night. There we were, driving along without a care in the world. Terry’s car is a rear-wheel drive, and it’s absolutely rubbish in the snow, so this was actually the first day he’d been able to drive it for weeks: we’ve been having to use mine all the time, and I think he was enjoying having his prechus car back again. Not for long, though. We reached the slip road onto the motorway, which was, as usual, shrouded in a cloak of darkness, (because seriously, there’s no point lighting those roads, is there?) when suddenly…

SMACK!

The car hit a pothole so large, and so deep, that it actually felt more like the road rose up to meet us, than the other way around. Rubin let out a high, girlish shriek (or actually, that might have been me?) and Terry and I turned to look at each other with despair in our eyes.

“Again…” muttered Terry. “It’s happened again…”

And indeed it had: the pothole had buckled not ne but TWO of the wheels so badly that even I, in the passenger seat of the car, could feel them rumbling awkwardly along the road, our once proud and mighty car reduced to a mere shadow of itself.

(Because our cars are like people, with actual personalities and stuff, I can’t help but take this a bit personally. I feel like the pothole had taken agin the car for some reason, and was lying there in wait for it, so that it could exact its revenge upon it. I really, really hate that pothole right now. I wish I could drop-kick it, or something, only I can’t imagine how that would work with a hole?)

Anyway. Terry got off the motorway at the next exit to inspect the damage, but there was nothing he could do, and luckily the car was still driveable (albeit slowly), so we limped sadly home, mentally counting up how much money is in our bank account right now and wondering how much of it will be left after this little incident. Verdict: probably not much. The problem, you see, is that you’re not entitled to compensation for this kind of thing, and we know this because the exact same thing happened to Terry’s last car, a few years ago. Basically, as long as the council, or whoever is in charge of the road maintenance (in this case its an agency called Bear Scotland, who “look after” the motorways) repair the pothole within 48 hours of you reporting it, they don’t have to take any responsibility for the damage which is awesome for them, but not so good for you, or the God-knows-how-many other vehicles that get damaged by the same hole (and bear in mind that this one is on a motorway, and is invisible in the dark… and that it’s dark here pretty much ALL THE TIME in winter). Terry called them as soon as we got home on Saturday night, and they confirmed this, so although they’re sending us out a claim form, we’re led to believe that the chances of them coughing up are slim to zero, so we’re left trying to get our insurance to cover it, which isn’t looking hopeful either.

Here is our newest nemesis, photographed by Terry the next morning:

(Coke can to aid perspective. To aid MY perspective, Terry explained to me that, “You could’ve put a stiletto shoe inside it!” Because, of course, I only understand things when they’re phrases in shoe-language*.)

There was a car pulled over next to it when he got there, changing its wheel, and when he called Bear Scotland back to get some more information from them, the guy he spoke to said he’d already had one call that morning about a car damaged by the same pothole, and bear in mind that he was in a call centre, so there would probably have been loads of them.

So, that’s the latest reason for me to continue hating the snow, even after it’s gone. It’s also the reason why the very next person to say, “But it’s SO PRITTY!” or “I wish there could be MOAR SNOW! Because I’m SO JELUS of the people with the MOAR SNOW!” will be responsible for my head exploding…

*That was sarcasm, by the way. You CAN talk to me about other things, too…

13 Comments

  • Sandy says:

    Sorry to hear about the car, just think of all the wasted shoes that will be sucked into the car payment!!? Or maybe don’t think about that actually….sozz!

    I always thought we had super vengeful kids round our way who kept digging out the pot holes….I’ve since realised it’s the blasted frost/snow!

    I’m sure I read somewhere that our council isn’t even going to bother filling any holes any more due to budget cuts…which is nice. */sarcasm*

  • Aline C says:

    GAHH I hate potholes!!!!! There are TONS of them in Beirut, and they have the same method of building roads here as well :P Everything keeps falling apart!! Snow is pretty….in pictures, I don’t think I can live with it EVER! (The longest I can stand it is probably for a weekend :P)
    I hope the insurance covers it (or at least most of it)!!!

  • Hayley says:

    Ah, you’ve probably only been to the warm areas of the U.S., which have better roads. Here in the Midwest, every road that’s not the interstate is pretty much shit. There are a few roads of my childhood that, I kid you not, there could be no one on the road in the middle of the day and it is still impossible to drive on a strip that doesn’t involve getting at least clipped by a pothole.

    Another issue I have with the roads (at least in the hometown…I’ve never seen them do this elsewhere) is that they’ll lay down a new road, then a week later replace some power/water/fiber/whathaveyou lines running through it. Now really, couldn’t those departments have talked amongst themselves and replace the lines THEN pave the road? As it is, it just adds to the potholes come winter/spring. /rant

    • Amber says:

      Well, we’ve been to places like Montana and Washington, and they seemed to have much better roads than we do here (as did Canada, which gets much colder weather than the UK in the winter), but maybe we were just lucky. Makes us wonder why we paid so much money in road tax last month, that’s for sure…

      • Leigh says:

        Road condition over here is definitely something that varies by state and county. And I hear you on the road taxes. I am now paying more than I ever have for taxes on my car in the city with the worst roads that I’ve lived in. I don’t know what they do with all my money.

        My theory is that there’s a cartel of automobile repair shops that lobbies my county and city to not maintain their roads properly.

  • xGlassElevator says:

    @foreveramber OMGPOTHOLES. They’re evil.

  • PotRevenge says:

    Hi Amber,

    Really sorry to hear about the car, must have been an awful noise.

    I’ve never had to claim for damage caused by pot holes, but you might find this site helpful:
    http://www.potholes.co.uk/claims/how_to_claim

    Good luck, keep us updated!

    And thanks for the lovely blog, it’s one of a few that I always try and keep up to date with :)

  • Megan says:

    we have tons of potholes that don’t get fixed ever. The city only does repairs on the major roads, but then it leaves huge holes like the ones on the road outside my condo complex untouched so they’re probably about 3 feet long by 2 feet wide. and not just one or two, it’s the whole street. If they would plow when the snow fell, it wouldn’t be as big of a problem. But it always seems like the amount of snow we get is a shock to the city council. I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It snows a lot every year.
    Another problem is the ice on the roads. They don’t like to sand the roads for whatever reason, so it’s pretty much like driving on a skating rink out there.

    /rant

  • Chloe says:

    I hate potholes and I don’t even drive! They have caused me to fall out of my wheelchair which has caused me physical damage!

  • Roisin says:

    Well I don’t have a car and have never experienced the pothole thing, but I just wanted to weigh in to say that clearly your cars do have personalities. Not all inanimate objects do, but cars do. They have faces and (sort of) voices and everything. So…well, I just wanted to say that really. And also to comiserate – that is a pretty shitty system regarding compensation! My brother’s car went into a pothole and he reported it for compensation but the council filled in the pothole and claimed there never was one there (this was pre camera phones) but more recently he did manage to make a successful claim against a pothole incident. The council required proof, and he was able to supply a photo of himself and his car next to the offending pothole. He drove home to get my dad to act as photographer and the two of them drove straight back to take the photo!

  • Katie says:

    I think I remember something from something like the one show early last year that the pothole has to be repaired within 48 hours of anyone reporting it – and if it’s still there and you’ve damaged your wheels in it, they you would have a claim for compensation. They were recommending a freedom of information request of reported potholes on that particular stretch of road – they would then have to release that information to you – if you can be bothered!

    It sucks though.

    • Amber says:

      Yes, that’s what I said in my post: Terry did go back to check it yesterday, and it’s been repaired, so they’ll probably try to get out of compensating us on those grounds, but we will probably go down the freedom of information route as we know there have been a lot of cars damaged on that slip road.

  • Melissa says:

    You should come to the Chicago/NW Indiana area if you think we have good roads in the US. I had the wheel of my car get bent because of one on the interstate here and we’ve had lanes closes because of car-swallowing potholes. You’d have to come to the area in the Spring to see them. Spring here is Pothole Season. There’s snow (Snowpocalypse 2011 happening right now), Potholes, Construction, and repeat.

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