By: Mary Fran Bontempo

To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

potholeDo you know that nightmare you have when you’re walking on a seemingly stable floor and all of a sudden giant holes begin opening randomly beneath your feet waiting to swallow you whole?

Welcome to driving in Philadelphia.

Actually, it’s not only Philadelphia, it’s anywhere in the Northeast, or, more likely, anywhere there was snow this winter, which was just about everywhere.

But back to Philadelphia. Potholes have long been a driving nuisance around Philly, which has its share of driving nuisances, most of them behind the wheel. Others include double parking without regard for the ambulance that’s now blocked in, saving parking spots with lawn chairs and enough one way streets to make rats in a maze feel right at home.

In other words, Philly driving is ugly in general. Add a winter as brutal as the one we’re in, with a sudden proliferation of potholes the size of moon craters, and getting around the area becomes something else entirely. Something like combat. Or driving the Daytona 500 with really bad drivers.

The problem is that our schedules and lives haven’t changed. Everyone is really busy and usually running late. So people are still speeding, only now they’re also swerving. At 70 m.p.h. Quite the adrenaline rush.

If you’re in the right lane of traffic though, where the potholes seem to be worse, probably given the seam at the road’s edge, there’s not much opportunity to speed. At least, not if you want to get where you’re going on all four tires. Here, you’re more likely inching. And braking. And inching. And braking some more. Oh, and swearing. I forgot swearing.

And this is in the daylight. Nik Walenda had an easier time crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope than you’ll have driving for a gallon of milk in the dark.

Remember Hummers? Those gigantic vehicles meant for war zones that rich, self-congratulatory people drove around as a public display of wealth and “I’m better than you-ness?” I used to make fun of Hummers, and the people that drove them. Now, I want one. Or maybe a tank. Yes, definitely a tank.

My brand new, decidedly unimpressive but really cute Chevy Malibu (first new car we’ve owned–well, leased– in ten years), is no match for what’s out there. I’m afraid she’ll get hurt. So she sits in the driveway while we bump and thrash around in our old, always ugly even when it was new, Buick Rendezvous, which my daughter nicknamed Shrek because of the shadow the car casts, side mirrors looking like the cartoon character’s ears. But even Shrek can’t handle this.

It’s almost enough to make one take public transportation. Wait. That would mean navigating SEPTA buses, or trains, or the El–the Market-Frankford elevated train, for the uninitiated.

Never mind, I’ll take my chances with the potholes. Or maybe I’ll just stay home. Chances are I wouldn’t get where I was going anyway.

Email me. Or call. If you need a visual, we’ll Skype or something. Otherwise, I’ll see you in May.

How are you dealing with driving a pothole obstacle course? Click “comments” below and share!