In his 1785 book Foundation of the metaphysics of moralitythe German philosopher Immanuel Kant defined the principle of the “categorical imperative” thus: “Act only in conformity with this maxim by which you can at the same time want it to become a universal law”.
Kant’s imperative is an upgrade of the golden rule: he took “do unto others” one step further to say that you should behave as you would like everyone in society to behave towards everything. the world.
“Dibs,” Chicago’s winter phenomenon where residents privatize curbside parking spaces with old chairs, traffic cones, milk crates, and other trash, fails Kant’s ethical litmus test.
If every driver in our city did this, cold weather parking would be a real pain for everyone involved.
The practice’s defenders frame it as a quaint, cheeky, and uniquely Chicago custom, much like Cubs fans who contemptuously reject an opposing team’s ball at Wrigley Field. In fact, “parking chairs” and “space savers” are quite common in other northern snowy towns like Pittsburgh and Boston.
Granted, some Chicagoans are getting creative with their space grabbing. The @chicagodibs Instagram account has plenty of photos of funny dibs, including statuettes of Jesus, stuffed animals, toilets, cut-outs of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and even a coffin.
But anti-dibs are also known to make memorable decorations. A photo by @chicagodibs shows an SUV on a snowless street with three folding chairs on the roof, covered in paper signs that read, “Here are your fucking chairs!” Dibs is finished asshole! Stop putting condoms on people’s cars!
Some local media speak charitably of dibs, suggesting that the perfectly normal job of digging up your car after a snow event is some kind of noble act that deserves your own personal parking space. For example, Block Club Chicago recently described dibs as “the age-old tradition of saving hard-earned parking spots.”
But as this SUV driver demonstrated, dibs are a fundamentally selfish and antisocial practice, using 15 or 30 minutes of shoveling as an excuse to live out your rockstar fantasy of free, private parking in front of your house. Worse yet, your claim is enforced by the implied threat of vandalism or violence against those who would move your shit.
Monica Eng delved into the matter for WBEZ two years ago, submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to the Chicago Police Department for reports of ‘criminal property damage’ complaints in the weeks after four major snowstorms in the previous decade. For example, after the massive DuSable Lake Shore Drive blizzard in 2011, there were more than 30 reports of vandalism associated with dibs, including spray-painted and dented doors; broken windows and mirrors; flat tires; and, shockingly, a case of severed brake lines. According to police, one of the culprits posted a picture of a knife in a car tire on Instagram, saying: “People want to be disrespectful and negligent towards [others’] hard work is what will happen.
Sorry, but if your response to someone parking in “your” space is to trash their vehicle or, God forbid, try to kill them by disabling their brakes, you are the sociopaths in this scenario.
Fortunately, the aldermen took action this winter. “LAST CHANCE TO DELETE DIBS!” tweeted first quarter alder Daniel LaSpata. “My office and I have always advocated for the removal of dibs throughout the storm. Dibs are illegal and not neighbors.
LaSpata hails from New Jersey, and some commentators played the “It’s a Chicago thing, you wouldn’t understand” card. “I bet you put ketchup on your hot dogs too” responded Caterpillar spokesman Clint W. Sabin.
But Chicago native and Southwestern City Councilman Ray Lopez (15th Ward) is pretty much on the same page as LaSpata. Earlier this month, he said he ordered street and sanitation workers to transport nine truckloads of dibs from his district.
“My office is always inundated with calls,” Lopez told me. “In some cases, single-family homes don’t use their garage to store their car and they take up six or seven spaces on the street. Growing up in Chicago, I get it, we all grew up with dibs. But this tradition that people cling to has gotten out of control.
Most responses to a tweet from Lopez about his policy of purging dibs were favorable. Some have noted that if you reserve a spot with trash, no one else can use it for the duration of your absence, making parking difficult for those who need to visit family and friends in other residential streets, as well as contractors and health. -care workers. “Well, as a home care nurse, it’s frustrating not to find a parking space so you can go treat a patient in need.” said a resident.
Even punk rocker Laura Jane Grace weighed in, Tweeter“Like I totally get the Chicago thing but, Jesus Christ, none of you are home and there’s no place to park.”
Fortunately, cities with more snow than Chicago suggest a more peaceful path. In Minneapolis, on the first day of a major storm, parking is prohibited on snow-covered Main Street roads so that curb lanes can be cleared of snow. On the second day, parking is prohibited on the side of even-addressed residential streets for curb lane clearance, but permitted on snow-covered roads. On the third day, odd sides of residential roads are cleared. To facilitate tightening while side streets are plowed, additional public parking may be made available on off-street lots.
Closer to home, Evanston has taken a very similar approach in recent years.
Lopez didn’t wait for a major policy change in Chicago to attempt this kind of strategy in his district. ” We organise [residential] blocks to move all the cars at once so the street can be cleared curb-to-curb,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for years, and about 20% of my parish will accept me. The response was overwhelmingly positive, as parking is easier when there is no snow than when there are dibs.
Alleviating winter parking problems through friendly cooperation instead of obnoxious intimidation makes good sense.
Like Seinfeld George Costanza’s character once angrily philosophized, “You know, we live in a society. We are expected to act in a civilized manner.