07 December 2010

who’s got dibs on that?


[Full disclosure:  I moved just north of the Chicago city limits about eight or so years ago, so my winter parking anger is now directed at the jokers that stay on the street and force the plows to weave around when they have a perfectly good driveway to use.]

Chicago just got hit with its first significant snowfall over the weekend.  Apparently it was enough to start off the traditional moving-of-the-lawn-furniture-to-the-street (now called ‘dibs’ by the news types).

It happens every year.  For anyone who doesn’t know, Chicago neighborhoods have this thing where, if you spend the time digging your car out of a spot you should be able to stake a claim to it, preferably with lawn or dining room furniture, although the more creative markers usually employ kids toy sets or possibly something they borrowed from grandma.

To be honest I don’t see what the big deal is.  But then again, I was never really dependent on my car anyway.  I almost always had a public trans alternative to get anywhere I needed to be, and when winter rolled around, my car typically just stayed where it was until all the parking craziness slowed down. 

I do understand though.  For anyone that’s had to wake up hours early, dig their car out of a foot and a half of snow (even more of the packed ‘heart attack’ variety if the city plows had swung by), and manage to still get out of the spot when you’ve only got inches between you and the cars in front and back of you – you don’t want to repeat that whole ordeal in the afternoon after a full day’s work.  You just don’t. 

I also understand that it’s technically illegal to litter the street with your crap.  While some folks didn’t agree with the whole thing, I never met anyone that objected it enough to organize anything about it.

So I’m curious to see what happens with Chair Free Chicago.  The group says that they 'believe people who are frustrated by it outnumber people who appreciate it’.  They also want to start a tradition that promotes being nice over being selfish.  To help you promote that they’ve created some signs and fliers that folks can print out themselves or purchase on their own if they want some on tougher stock:


I appreciate the thought, but I have to admit these fliers are a bit passive-aggressive for my taste, and don’t understand how they promote a tradition of niceness.

But, maybe I’m too ‘burban now.  All I know is that I only rarely saw an actual fight over a parking spot.  I probably saw more fights with people arguing who had the right of way when going opposite directions in an alley that couldn’t fit two cars side by side in the snow. 

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