Sunday, February 17, 2008

Paying for my stubbornness, in a sense...

So, here in Chicago, we have this thing that many of you may not know about. Go here to read about it:

It's quite "controversial," in the sense of, people get beaten up over this, tires get slashed, cars get keyed, etc. I'm not kidding. It's serious stuff. If there's one thing you learn growing up as a Chicagoan, it's to not mess with someone's parking spot chairs in the winter.

Anyway, I personally don't REQUIRE parking directly in front of my house. I'm not so lazy I can't walk a couple houses over to get to/from my car. Helping the situation is that, really, at my end of the block, parking isn't bad at all. The only reason I'd want to park in front and have found it important lately is that, well, Gina's pregnant. However, even amidst the snowstorms this year, I've not put chairs or anything out (partially, too, because I really don't have "junk" I can put out there).

By the same token, I haven't dug out my spot either. I've just rolled my Equinox in and out of the spot -- compacting the snow and ice and creating some nice ruts to drive through.

Well, as I type this, I'm in pain. Today, I paid for not shoveling out some of the snow ahead of time. We had rains and rains and melting snow today, which created all sorts of standing water all up and down the street. Now, we weren't in danger of flooding the house, but all the standing water on the sidewalk makes for precarious walking. And with the temps about to plunge again, I didn't want all that ice on the walks.

So, I went and got my trusty metal garden spade and went at the solid, compacted ice in the street along the curb in order to create a channel about 40 feet long from my sidewalk to the street all the way down to the nearest sewer. I was out there chopping and shoveling away at the ice for probably a good 30-45 minutes. I accomplished my task, but realized that my hands and fingers had kind of seized up because of all the reverb, repetitive motion and being kept tightly in the same grip the entire time. Once I loosened them up a bit, it was better. But now, they're sore, even typing out this long message.

Parking "dibs" is interesting...and it's really a hit-or-miss proposition...on my block, for example, there aren't many folks who do it...yet, anyway. But you could go over a block and find everyone doing it, or no one. It's really a block-to-block thing.

Personally, I probably won't put anything out in the street, at least not at this time. Like I said, parking's still not bad, and people actually shovel their sidewalks here too, so you don't have to trudge through snow and ice to get to your car if it's a few doors down. And I don't mind if people put stuff out in front of their houses either. That's cool. But, I think next time, I'll try to shovel out a little bit of the street, to prevent my hands from being jackhammered once the ice is compacted and immovable. It'll save me some time, effort and hand-ache later.


Tasch said...

Are parking chairs new in Chicago or something? The fine folks in Pittsburgh have been using this well-respected method of saving spots for much longer than I can remember. I haven't ever heard of any problems with the system, everyone just knows that's how things are. And it goes on all year round in some areas.

Sandy said...

Ah, yes. The "parking" chairs. They do that in Detroit, too. Even in the summertime (and they get ugly if you ignore and move the stuff and park there anyway). There have been shots fired over this!

Gary said...

Use a gardening fork instead of a shovel. It does a better job at breaking the ice. I never use a shovel any more. Takes way too long!

Fred said...

Gary: good tip on the fork. I'll try that here in Balto next time.

Andy: The practice is very common here in the balto. area too. I grew up in a "row home" <- I think that's a baltimore-only term for red-brick townhomes in and around the city. My dad religiously put out our chairs after shoveling. We lived on a big hill, so if you had to walk too far from the house up or down to find your spot, you were definitely risking life and limb.

One Project Closer

P.S. I was wondering if you would be willing to participate in an house blogging interview. A few details are here. Jennifer agreed to be the first. I expect her post to come out on Friday.

Andy said...

Tasch: The practice is most definitely not new, even though some journalists act as though it is. It's just something to complain about every year for some people.

Sandy: I know some people who have slashed tires over someone taking their spot.

Gary: Good tip...that said, this ice was so compacted, I probably would still have had to beat the hell outta it. :)

Fred: I'd definitely be interested in an interview. What do you have in mind? I don't want to "overcommit" with the baby on the way, and then not have a project "at the ready" as it were. It'll be nice to be interviewed for once, since, in my job, I'm usually the one doing the interviewing (editor).

Why S? said...

Ha! This is a hoot! This is news to me. I've lived nearly all my adult life in Southern California and I've never once cleared snow. But my house doesn't have parking and I've often considered devious ways of saving a space for myself. Chairs won't work though. They'd just be carted off in shopping carts by our local "recyclers."

Andy said...

Honestly, Why S, that's part of why I don't put anything out. I'm afraid someone will just flat-out take and keep it. :)