All's Fair in Love and Parking?

A Chicago Shop Wants to Put an End to 'Reserving' Shoveled-Out Parking Spots

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As someone who doesn't ski, snowboard or ice skate and generally avoids most outdoor winter sports, I actually like winter. I still get excited by that first snowfall (even now that I live in Chicago). Maybe it's a childhood thing -- every snowstorm was a promise of school closing. How bad could a blizzard be if I didn't have to go to school? I have all those great memories from my youth to keep me warm, I suppose. That's the nice thing about childhood.

But adults and snow, well, that's a whole other ballgame.

Such as, why dog owners seem suddenly reluctant to pick up after their hounds after it snows. Or why no one can properly shovel and salt their sidewalks. But while some people half-ass shoveling the walk, they're downright diligent about digging the car out from under. I suppose all that hard shoveling makes some folks territorial. As the release I got this morning put it, calling "dibs" on a cleared-out space is the "polarizing tradition" of "I have dibs on this piece of the street for the next week (or two, or three) because I shoveled it." You toss lawn chairs, garbage cans, coolers and whatever other crap is in the garage into the shoveled-out space and claiming it as your own. (I guess it beats licking the street.)

Here in the otherwise relatively polite environs of the Midwest, holding onto that shoveled-out space gets downright nasty. How nasty? Stories of slashed tires and pancake batter and Vaseline being smeared on cars that have moved into those "reserved" parking spots abound. Or at least those tales abound around the offices of Proximity, the digital shop that's part of Energy BBDO.

So the good folks at Proximity -- who are probably too tired or too afraid to fight with their crotchety neighbors -- have kicked off a Chair Free Chicago movement. You can print out "How mad are you?" fliers and tape them to trees. (There's even a sign for mad New Yorkers: "Consider yourself a selfish prick, you selfish prick. Now get your crap out of the street.")

Of course, the other way to look at this is all's fair in love and parking. I bet what New Yorkers are really going to want are signs that tell Bloomberg to stop ticketing cars buried under snow.