MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An East Memphis man has gone viral with millions of views on TikTok after he jumped into a pothole in the middle of a Memphis street to get it fixed.
Traynor Jenning’s video has been viewed millions of times, and it seems to have gotten the city’s attention — on Wednesday the hole in Waring Street was covered with a metal plate and surrounded by barricades.
“Hey city of Memphis, there’s holes like this everywhere,” Jennings said in the video, which was uploaded a few days ago. “We’re like in the middle of the street. We’re on Waring Road.”
Jennings decided to get in, and the hole swallowed him up almost to his waist.
He said he has a passion for making change, but the attention the video received shocked him.
“You mean to tell me it had three million views in a couple days? Never,” he said.
Jennings initially noticed the hole more than a week ago while on a walk with his wife on Waring Road.
He immediately thought he needed to call 311, the city’s citizen service complaint line. He said he heard about other neighbors calling, too.
But the problem hadn’t been fixed, so Jennings jumped in to get it done.
“We’re walking our morning walk and I say, ‘Hey honey, let me do a video,'” he recalled.
The video caught the eye of a city councilman who worked to get the hole temporarily covered.
Since posting the video, Jennings said he has heard from people all over the country and even outside the U.S.
“‘Oh my gosh, I’m in New Jersey we have this pothole,’ or you know, ‘Hey, I’m in Missouri, they’re far worse here,’ or you know, ‘Come to this state, right? Texas,'” he said. “It’s kinda like people wanted me to come there and stand in a hole and say, ‘Hey fix this.'”
He’s even created another TikTok username — potholeking — alerting people about other holes.
In one recent video, he’s standing in the 900 block of Blythe Street in Midtown.
Jennings said that, after hearing people’s experiences, losses and damages, he wants to make a difference.
“To create awareness to say ‘Hey, I mean, these are dangerous,'” he said. “It’s not about just hurting your tire, I mean, imagine a biker going over that hole. A kid could fall in there, right? They’re not safe.”
One man’s annoyance has turned into a passion.
“Hey, if me going out and standing in holes brings change to getting them fixed quicker, I’ll do that,” Jennings said.
WREG reached out to the City of Memphis to see when a more permanent fix might be coming for the Waring Road pothole. The city addressed Jenning’s Tik Tok video in a Facebook post saying:
You may have seen this TicTok video, but let’s clear a few things up with some facts.
This is not a pothole. This is a cavity that is caused by a leak in an underground waterline which lead to erosion.
When this situation was brought to our attention, Public Works immediately covered the hole with a metal plate. Before the road can be repaired, the underground problem must be fixed.
On average, potholes that are reported to 311 are filled within two days. So far this year, we’ve filled 29,000 potholes. In addition, we have more than doubled street paving in the last 6 years compared to the prior 6 years.
This TicTok may be funny to watch, but it was unwise to remove the metal plate and place yourself into the cavity of washed away soil in the middle of a street. Your best bet is to call 311 to report road damage and potholes.City of Memphis
Despite the city’s claim, Jennings said he did not move the metal plate to make the video.
He said he called 311 and reported the hole on May 23. On May 26, he posted the video around 10 a.m. and councilman Ford Canale reached out to him a short time later.
Jennings said the hole was covered by the metal plate about 90 minutes after councilman Canale contacted him.