Can’t Park Here

February 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

As seen in front of my apartment

Since my move to Chicago, I’ve become rather fond of some of our local traditions.  Dying the river green for St. Patrick’s Day, hating on our politicians and gorging ourselves on food and drink are all things I can get behind but there’s another tradition I’m happy to avoid because it can be downright dangerous.  Of course I’m referring to saving parking spots in the dead of winter

I’ve known about this for a while but have never given it much thought, especially since I no longer have a car.  Apparently the particular tradition of  “if you dig it, you dib it” is a pretty common practice throughout neighborhoods where cars get double buried due to plows.  Things are really serious now since we still have so much damn snow all over the place and Chicagoans aren’t messing around with their spots.  I realized this a few nights ago upon arriving home, when I noticed two spots that had been saved.  As you can see, the first one had a stool in it.  This next one (in case you can’t quite tell) featured a couple of boxes with a piece of plywood stacked on top.

I’ve seen lots of chairs, milk crates, boxes, debris, road construction cones and even a concrete pillar saving spots all around the city.  I understand the reasoning behind the idea – if I spent 2 hours shoveling out my car I would want that spot back too.  Most Chicagoans acknowledge and respect this Ancient Law of Dibs but it remains controversial nonetheless.  Some people say that if everyone shoveled out

Don't walk the plank!

their cars then no one would have to save a thing, but given that the majority of the population tends to be lazy and unmotivated in the middle of winter, this idea isn’t likely.  The For and Against groups post fliers, write lengthy editorials and even start organizations based on their position (Chair-Free Chicago anyone?).  Politicians even talk about this while running for office – current Mayor Daley supports it, as do new hopefuls Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico.  It seems that everyone who owns a car has a die hard opinion on the matter – personally, I’m thankful it’s something I don’t really have to deal with.

This week we were discussing this tradition at the food pantry where I volunteer.  Out of morbid curiosity, I asked a few Chicago natives what happens if someone stops their car, removes the space-saver and takes the spot anyway.  You would’ve thought I had just told them the Cubs were going to win the next World Series.  After wiping the incredulous looks from their faces, they both just shook their head and said you wouldn’t want to do that.  I’ve heard horror stories of people getting their back windows smashed in after swiping saved spots and apparently that kind of thing really happens.  I was told that at the very least, someone who usurped a spot with dibs could expect a nice car keying.  Really.

I’ll stick to the sidewalks any day.


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