Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We need you, Pothole Robin Hood (Day 17: Ultimate Blog Challenge)

You’d think potholes were a Third World problem. 

Apparently not. 

Turns out that potholes are the great leveler. We knew India has them. Certainly Mumbai does, too many to count, and now we know the US has them too. 

While most of us only crib and complain about these potholes and about the damage they are doing to our spines and lower backs, and our vehicles too, one gentleman, Ron Chane, from Jackson, Mississippi, USA, decided to stop whining and do something about the pothole-ridden roads in his city. What he did was to steal asphalt from the city and fill the potholes himself. 

Ingenious solution! I wonder why it didn't occur to someone else.

The guy later admitted to stealing the material from the city’s reserves, then using it to fill the potholes. He aimed to fill 100 potholes, and he achieved that aim. His fellow citizens were able to recognise his handiwork from the fact that he had spray-painted a white circle around the potholes that he had filled. He also denoted an arrow with the words, Citizen Fixed.

His actions have earned him national attention, and a grateful citizenry of Jackson, egged on by local newspapers, have started referring to him as Pothole Robin Hood.

The Mayor of Jackson city, Chokwe Lumumba, expressed his approval of what Chane had done but not of the means that he had employed to meet his goal. In his own words, Jackson does not permit “any use of the city’s resources without going through the proper legal channels.”

Now the man is currently under an investigation by the authorities. Chane claims that while the powers-that-be do not condone his behaviour, they are “on the understanding side.”

I am happy for Mr Chane. In my opinion, he has performed a great service. I am so proud of his achievements that I have a suggestion for him. Should the authorities in Jackson start ‘misunderstanding’ him, there is a way in which he can get out of the heat.

I want him to know that on behalf of my fellow citizens here in Mumbai, I would be delighted to offer him amnesty in our pothole-ridden city. God knows we have enough potholes in this city to keep him busy for months. 

According to the pothole-tracking system of BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation], there are about 8262 potholes in the city of Mumbai. Mind you, these are the ones that people have reported in.

Our officials, quick to play the blame game, have blamed the seasonal monsoon for the state of the roads and the size and depth of the potholes. So if Mr Chane were to show up here, they would even, I’m sure, help with the re-filling material, provided he took the labour issue off their hands. In return, they might offer him large-sized cloth banners, with his mugshot emblazoned on it in full Eastman or Kodak colour, depending on his preferences. The exact amount of the monetary compensation can be worked out later.

The best part about signing up for the job is that he will always be in demand. And as long as he asks for his remuneration in dollar terms, he can make a killing. Look at how the rupee is falling.

Mr Chane should be warned, though. That habit of signing his handiwork like the artist he is, that might not always be possible here. Those Jackson potholes, they're no match for the smallest of ours.

Some of our potholes are so big and deep that a BEST bus could fall into it and find it difficult to get back up. There's no way he could spray paint his autograph around a pothole of that size. He will very likely run out of paint for the job. For that matter, we will very likely run out of asphalt to fill up all the potholes. 

Perhaps while the authorities in Jackson are still in 'understanding' mode, he had better bring some of the asphalt with him.

Dear Mr Chane, if you're reading this, I hope you take it seriously. We need you, Pothole Robin Hood.



  1. Our local paper here in Oakland County has a 'pothole hotline' where folks can call in and report where they are. I have no idea if they get fixed faster, but I do know that we have had one car in our family nearly disappear into one. I always thought they were worse in Michigan because of our nasty winters. I guess it is a universal problem. Maybe those craters on the moon are really potholes.

  2. Cynthia , I always thought that Mumbai was the only city to have potholes but your post reveal that it is a universal problem. Hope somebody does what Mr.Chane does, to Mumbai. Loved the post.

  3. Hadn't heard about this. What a wonderful person! Praying it turns out well with the authorities.

  4. I hadnt't heard this story before but I LOVED reading your post and learning about this Robin Hood like man. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh dear! Pot holes are really dangerous! I hope everything turns out smoothly!

  6. Wow! Denise, The very fact that they have a hotline means that they are at least 50% serious about getting the potholes fixed. Here in BOmbay, newspapers run campaigns for months, and our municipal guys go around counting them, but no good comes of it. THe potholes just increase and multiply.

  7. Yes, Kalpana, even I was surprised to note that America has a pothole problem.

  8. I hope so too, Sophie. A few weeks ago, a young newly married guy died after his motor cycle got into a pothole in Bombay.

  9. hi, Courtney, welcome to my blog. We certainly need more of his kind.

  10. THanks for dropping by, Dawn, I hope the authorities don't deal with him harshly.

  11. That's quite some...actualy i do know its a universal problem, the point is in a county like India where ever the car tyres get lost one thought of stealing asphalt ever?!

    Nice post, Cynthia!

  12. Thank you, Kajal. I really hope BMC does something soon before all our roads turn into one giant crater.

  13. Do they have pothole tracking system in BMC?? The other day Smita had posted a few pics of potholes in Mumbai....and there wasnt any road just big potholes everywhere. We would need a lot like Mr Chane, as filling the potholes in Mumbai is no mean feat!:D

  14. what an attitude...! he took things into his own hands instead of waiting for the authorities to do something about it! that's so inspirational...

  15. The title is quite funny. "Pothole robin hood" such incidents make you feel that really we live the life of a second rate citizen in our own country. The issues hounding us never get sorted. They cannot provide us safety but now they are hell bent on taking away our comfort too! Sheer complacency on the parts of all govt officials..




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