- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

The number of car-eating potholes around the city is increasing, another manhole cover has exploded, and Mayor Anthony A. Williams is seeking to clear the secondary roads with the spring thaw.
Mother Nature is not feeling too cooperative either.
The S-word is back in the forecast, along with a regionwide appeal: "Give us a break."
At this pace, it is going to be June before we see the cherry blossoms.
Lots of sober-minded scientists, including Al Gore, say a hole in the ozone layer is contributing to a warming of the Earth's atmosphere. You can't prove that by us.
We woke up one day this winter and discovered what it was like to be in International Falls, Minn.
The good news is that it has been too cold for Martin Sheen to sleep on a grate. The bad news is he has been trying to run the Bush administration's foreign policy.
By the way, where's that overrated groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil? Can we have another word with him?
All we need is a minute or two to slap some sense into him, and we will have this matter cleared up, which certainly would beat the pace of the road-maintenance crews.
Right. All they are saying is give the road crews a chance.
The road crews are said to be working round-the-clock. No, they don't eat, and they don't sleep. They also don't see very well. They can't tell a manhole from a pothole. It must be true. A manhole for a pothole, and the road crews go blind.
Alas, the city is in awfully rough shape, notably the thoroughfares that appear to have undergone the Blitz of World War II. A few of the openings appear to have more in common with a sinkhole than a pothole. You could lose a tourist bus in a few of them.
It is a good thing most of us have accumulated lots of spare duct tape in recent weeks. You probably should tape the windows of your vehicle before venturing out into the city.
Talk about messing up the old front-end alignment. If you drop into some of the potholes, driving is never the same afterward. You want to turn right, and you have to turn the steering wheel left. You want to back up into a parking space, and you have to do some kind of multiple-choice thing with the steering wheel.
It is a guessing game out there, and it is anyone's guess which official in the mayor's office came up with the big idea to let the dog days of summer complete the snow-removal process.
You can't walk in the city, and you can't drive in the city, which leaves catching a ride on the next exploding manhole cover.
Seriously, what is it with the city's inability to ground the fleet of flying manhole covers? The city can't seem to stop them, and sometimes the city can't even hope to contain them.
The manhole cover is becoming the unofficial bird of the city. Baltimore has the Orioles, and we have the flying manhole covers. This is just great.
In most cities, you don't give a thought to manhole covers. Here, in the nation's capital, you are obligated to consider your chances before stepping onto one.
Here they have all these security-oriented do's and don'ts in place around the city. You no longer are permitted to bring your miniature refrigerator to the MCI Center.
You also are encouraged not to look suspicious around any large gathering of people, except the peace protesters, where nearly everyone appears to have just stepped out of a scene from "The Stepford Wives."
The proper authorities undoubtedly should issue more detailed explanations with their bulletins. You need only so much duct tape to put over the mouth of George Clooney.
They certainly don't tell you what to do in the event of an unplanned flight aboard a manhole cover. Other than putting your seat and tray table in their locked and upright positions, is it permissible to scream, behave erratically and exhibit a form of air rage?
Would anyone object if you wrapped yourself in plastic sheeting? What about the landing? Should you try to parachute off, or ride it out from the restroom?
Just asking. You can't be thorough enough nowadays.
Doppler radar is in a bad mood again, the citizenry's lower back muscles are on shovel alert again, and the city's leadership has come to the persuasive conclusion that March follows February.


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