On March 24th a Sinkhole appeared on I-240. Helicopters soon hovered above, reporters descended on the scene and traffic was snarled throughout East Memphis. Approximately 48 hours later, repairs were complete, the emergency subsided and our city went back to business as usual.
In a coup for Smart City Memphis, I have the obtained the first post-repair interview with The Sinkhole itself. The Sinkhole speaks, on the record, sharing its experiences, thoughts regarding the greater sinkhole community and offering insights into life at the bottom.
JL: How are you feeling?
SH: Amazed and relieved. I didn’t expect to be feeling good as new so fast. It was a wild ride. Who knew that a simple Sinkhole could grab so much attention? I’m glad no one was hurt, had a pretty good time and feeling relaxed now that things have calmed down.
JL: You seem surprised that this was over so fast?
SH: Well, it’s not like I’m the only Sinkhole around. With the way other sinkholes get taken care of, I thought I might just be told to change my name to Pond or Ditch. You remember that sinkhole Downtown a while back? Amtrak couldn’t stop in Memphis for months. But you mess up a bunch of commuters and I guess you get real popular.
JL: What was the damage, by the way?
SH: Oh I figure about 60,000 people roll past here each day. Some from out of town, others going to work, some just cruising the loop. I bet I ticked off 100,000 people.
JL: Sounds like a lot?
SH: Not really. My sister-in-law, Education Sinkhole, probably deals with over 300,000 students every day. If you tack on 600,000 parents and a big-ole community that is going to need these kids to be smart, that is a pretty big crater.
She is sure mad right now though. Half the time she thinks she is more important than any other sinkhole in town. We tell her all the time that she gets all the money anyway. But she swears the future is tied up in her and if I can get fixed in 48 hours, surely someone could do something with her.
JL: What did you tell her?
SH: Nothing. My cousin, Middle Class Sinkhole, butted in. I told him he wasn’t really a sinkhole and to mind his own business. He wanted to know what you call it when a bunch of people funnel out of one place and settle in another. He says I don’t pay any attention to him because he’s been sinking since the 50s.
I only talk to him because he has a bunch of young friends. All 25 to 35 years old. Hard to keep up with them though. They’re not just moving around this area. They are dropping out of this region all together… you want to talk about a major sinkhole? I think over 20,000 of them have disappeared since 1999.
JL: You sound like this bugs you?
SH: Doesn’t bug me. 48 hours. I got fixed in 48 hours. Education affects millions and can’t get any attention. Flight is in your face and no one is even trying to do anything about that. I’m on the highway, man. I have no complaints. Plus, this town is loaded with sinkholes and I can’t worry about all of them.
JL: You know some on Smart City Memphis have concerns about our city budget?
SH: Worry away. I have Washington money and Nashville money.
JL: What would you think if the money used to take care of you was used on a much bigger, newer highway loop?
SH: Ain’t gonna happen. They said my highway was critical to solving all of the nation’s traffic problems years ago. They said it had to be here to address growth in this community too. They are not letting anything happen to that. I am secure.
JL: I know, as a sinkhole, that you may not know what’s happening with new concrete. What if I told you that 20 miles on every side of you, hundreds of millions of dollars were being spent to build a new version of your highway specifically to solve all of the nation’s traffic problems and address growth in this community?
SH: That’s crazy. I just told you Memphis has a bunch of other sinkhole problems. Most of those are caused because of population decline not increase. Are you listening? What would we need all that new highway for? Unless you just want to fix a bunch of new sinkholes?
At that point, our interview was interrupted by attorneys from the Department of Transportation who asked us to submit a written request for information and to get moving.