People May Be Living in a Pothole in My Alley. Sorry, But I Find This Quite Scary.

Not sure this photo captures it, but the orange bucket at the bottom of the pothole appears to be posed on top of a plastic crate that is being used as a table or possibly as a step.
Not sure this photo captures it, but the orange bucket at the bottom of the pothole appears to be posed on top of a plastic crate that is being used as a table or possibly as a step.
Jim Schutze

I think someone may be living in a pothole near my house.

Usually I eschew using this space to pursue private matters, but today I think this particular problem may rise to the level of general public interest. If you are reading it, that means my editors must have agreed with me.

I urge you to look at the pictures, but I also need to offer some verbal perspective. The pothole in question is somewhere between 5 and 6 feet deep. From a small opening at the surface, between 2 and 2.5 feet in diameter, the pothole opens up below ground into a larger chamber or cavern. I don’t know how big it is because I am afraid to go down there.

My reason for believing that the pothole may be occupied is my discovery today of an orange bucket at the bottom that appears to have been placed on top of a plastic crate that may be serving as a table. But allow me please to pose another less alarming explanation. The crate and the bucket may merely have washed into the pothole during recent rains, and the bucket may simply have landed on top of the crate.

My dogs know that something is going on down there that is both extremely interesting and extremely something to be ready to jump away from in a flash.
My dogs know that something is going on down there that is both extremely interesting and extremely something to be ready to jump away from in a flash.
Jim Schutze

I did call out into the pothole, “Is anybody home?” But there was no response.

The pothole is in the alley behind our house, several houses down. Neighbors closer to the pothole have been complaining to the city for a week or more but to no avail.

The alley is legally closed or “abandoned” by the city, no longer in use by garbage trucks, though my wife and I were ordered by the city a few months ago to spend $3,000 taking down an old injured tree that the city said posed a threat to emergency vehicles. This pothole, if it caved in all the way, could easily swallow the front end of a fire truck.

I was afraid to descend to the bottom of the pothole on account of being chicken, but I attempted to hold my phone down into it to snap this picture. Beyond this gloom is a chamber of unknown dimensions, which may or may not be occupied by human beings, coyotes, foxes or maybe all of the above.
I was afraid to descend to the bottom of the pothole on account of being chicken, but I attempted to hold my phone down into it to snap this picture. Beyond this gloom is a chamber of unknown dimensions, which may or may not be occupied by human beings, coyotes, foxes or maybe all of the above.
Jim Schutze

I first got the idea something might be living in the pothole a few weeks ago when my dogs, Penny and Dorothy, became both interested in and wary of it. They have been acting that way about several sniff sites in the neighborhood for a month or more, ever since people started spotting coyotes and foxes running around. I figured maybe one of those guys was living down there, possibly denning in the spring to shelter newborns.

The bucket and crate caught my eye this morning however because they really do not look accidentally arranged. I got down into the pothole a little bit to examine the bucket to see if it was being used as a toilet, but I neither saw nor smelled evidence of that. Flipped over the other way, with the bottom up, the bucket could be used as a step for getting in and out of the pothole.

One of the neighbors jammed these railroad ties into the pothole as a kind of visual warning that this is a very deep and strange pothole.
One of the neighbors jammed these railroad ties into the pothole as a kind of visual warning that this is a very deep and strange pothole.
Jim Schutze

I have lived in East Dallas for almost 40 years, and over that time I have seen a lot. We have had recurring problems with homeless people taking up residency in outbuildings, abandoned vehicles and so on. This is the first time I have ever wondered if one of them was living in a pothole.

I am not going to say one word here about the Trinity River project or the juggler they want to have under an overpass. I want to say only this. About the time tax-paying citizens have to start wondering if people may be living in the potholes in their neighborhoods, I think the city has, if nothing worse, a very serious pothole problem. Thank you allowing me to share. Please inform me if you know of other cities where people may be living in potholes.


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