Monday, December 29, 2008

Parking space dibs

Friday afternoon was hectic. In the space of 90 minutes, I had to drive from Rolling Meadows to Rogers Park and make three stops: the post office; Jewel for some shabbos lunch items; and the Weinribs to pick up some mail and stuff (don’t ask). I pulled onto my hosts’ block at 1521, T-45 minutes to candle-lighting. Plenty of time to shower, shave and dress, right? Plenty of time if I could find a parking space. Oh, my hosts’ block had plenty of spaces—nearly all blocked off with junk so that residents could reclaim them upon return. What a disgusting, un-neighborly and selfish habit that residents engage in to reserve spots they have cleared of snow and ice. In my rear-view mirror, I saw a van pull out. I pulled to one side thinking I could take his space. But he paused to dump some of his basement garbage (large pieces of cardboard, in this case) onto his spot. If I had parked there, I would have risked vandalism to my vehicle: air out of tires, eggs and honey on the windshield, or worse. I did find a dibs-free spot just a few doors down from my host, so I lucked out. But I was not too happy at my hosts’ neighbors demonstrating just how selfish they can be. (My hosts do not participate in dibs despite owning two vehicles and parking them on the street.)
Reserving parking spaces with basement garbage is technically illegal in Chicago but condoned by the mayor.
One of my friends disagrees with me strongly on this. “What about the grandma who can’t walk far to her vehicle?” he asks. He may have a point. (As an aside, I also don’t think people should be able to reserve 24-hr. handicapped parking spaces on city streets. These spaces typically stay long after the owner dies, happily used by the owners’ children.) But most people who stake claims to parking spaces are able-bodied. If every able-bodied male on a block would simply clear two parking spaces instead of just his own, there wouldn’t be a problem; the street would be clear. I was proud of the fact that my block in Rogers Park was dibs-free. A friend and I “enforced” our dibs-free zone on neighboring blocks last winter by helping ourselves to the junk that people left on the street. (Items left on the street are legally “hefker,” ownerless.) I considered doing that on my friends’ block Saturday night, but I didn’t want to put wet garbage in my car trunk.

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