Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Friendly Neighborhood Snow Parking Issue.

On a normal sunny day in South Philadelphia, you can find blocks of double-parked cars, a parking lot in the center lane of Broad Street, and a few scattered lawn chairs saving the parking spots of local residents who cite some sort of "My Family's been here for 100 years and we're just going to the Acme for a minute" birth rite. This is annoying, but if you circle the block a few times you're bound to find a spot vacated by someone humble enough to leave a spot for the next guy, like a normal person. But in the winter to end all Philly winters, there are no normal sunny days.

When snow falls from the sky in record numbers in Philadelphia, a city more accustomed to Storms of the Century turned drizzle, than to 40" of snow in 4 days, the locals get restless and the worst of their already disgruntled characters comes bubbling to the surface. The occasional chair saving a parking spot balloons into a situation where every single vacated parking spot is occupied by lawn chairs, kitchen furniture, paint buckets, plastic tables, traffic cones, and a myriad of other pieces of plastic garbage parked in perfectly good car-sized parking spots. This quirky neighborhood issue has metastasized into a rapacious cancer of me-firstism, that is eating at the already moribund body politic in the City of "If you ain't from here, get the fuck out. Wait, where are you going, come back here with my job."

The idea of the Saved Spot is incredibly offensive to me. It takes a self-centered world view and multiplies it by a disgusting obesity of laziness, for a person to believe that he alone was affected by consecutive Nor'easters. It all begins with the inconvenience of snow fall. Everything sucks, and parking sucks, so you save your spot, which only exacerbates the already difficult parking situation for everyone else. People leave notes like the one on the end of my street "Please do not park here. I worked very hard shoveling my space. Karma is a bitch." I've seen this guy, he's 30 years old and drives an Audi. I guess the fact that the snow forced him to do 30 mins of cardio in the outdoors was enough to earn him his spot for the next month. I hate this guy. I thought maybe he was an old lady at first with the "I worked very hard" line, but rather it's an able bodied man, citing Karma in defense of his 30 mins of toil. If Karma does its thing that guy will become a vegetable, a literal vegetable. Like a kumquat or something.

If you are one of the many who has taken up this chair parking behavior you are one of 3 types of people:
1. You do this all the time because you grew up doing it, and you've live on this block the longest, and you saved up for your Mustang bagging groceries at Acme all through high school, and you're 34 years old and not yet eligible for a handicap spot and you live with your grandma who sometimes has to get in your car, and whatever it's your neighborhood, and fuck all the yuppies.
2. You normally wouldn't do it, but you hurt your back shoveling 3ft of snow twice in one week, and with all the physical labor you exerted you deserve a prize. A reserved parking space that only you and your chair can park in.
3. You normally wouldn't do it, but all the spots in your neighborhood are occupied by chairs so you pretty much have to or you'll never find a spot. And it seems to be working.

The idea of saving a parking space whenever you leave it and having it there when you return is a very sexy one. It's tantamount to having reserved parking, a luxury many people pay very good money for, some even build garages for the privilege. I bet those schmucks wish they had known that they could have saved all that garage money by carrying a lawn chair in their trunk. That chair is like a Wharton MBA, pop it open, place it in the spot, and voila, a parking spot with your name on it. You are better than everyone else, because when the snow started to fall, you were parked somewhere. When the snow stopped falling, you wanted to take your car somewhere else. So you cleared your car of snow with a broom or something, and then you cleared some snow from the front and back and sides of your car, and pulled out, leaving a gaping hole behind, a hole that looks impressive, but which you had very little to do with. Your car, bless its little soul, took care of most of it. I know this because I too have shoveled my car and my girl's car, every time it snowed. My chest swelled with pride at my greatness when I typed those words.

People in the aforementioned 3rd group, who feel a little guilty when they come home and see that sweet parking spot right in front of their house, still housing their Ikea chairs that they left in the morning, might ask someone like me to stop being so bitter, and to just put something in my spot. But I refuse to do that because, oh I don't know, I worry about sad sacks like me who are searching far and wide for a spot vacated by an unselfish and reasonable person. Hopefully when I return with my car, someone else will have returned the favor.

Now I've heard some say, "I cleared the spot, I deserve it. I don't want some asshole who didn't even clear a spot taking one he doesn't deserve." To those who say this I point out one thing, if the guy is driving his car around, odds are he must have cleared a spot somewhere, so maybe he deserves to borrow your spot, while you're not using it. Just a thought. Likewise, maybe you'll find yourself in his neighborhood and you can park in his spot. This is how parking works, dammit.

Now the reason people even try this whole spot saving thing is because it works. It works because if you take someone's spot they'll know it was you because you left your car there. You left your car exposed to whatever type of wrath the parking space's "owner" chooses. They could egg it, key it, avocado it, or "noun" it in a million ways more expensive than a lawn chair. So it is in instances like this when a people relies on its government to enforce the rules and squash civic discontent. I would assume leaving objects in parking spaces would be illegal in Philadelphia, but not according to our brilliant mayor.

In an interview with the local Fox affiliate Mayor Nutter stated "Look, if you spend two hours digging your car out, that is some serious effort there, and ultimately it's got to be respected by folks in the community. And I think most people really do understand that, and they've kind of worked those things out."

The fact that the mayor has the same idiotic mentality as the populace is just fitting for the Racist City that years ago elected a black mayor so he could bomb black neighborhoods. Nutter's notion that some people spent 2 hours digging out a spot and should be respected accordingly, implies that those trying to take their spots are coming from distant climes where snow never fell. This logical mastermind is supposed to get us out of a budget crisis, puh-leeze. I'll put money on the idea that pretty much anybody driving around Philadelphia right now, dug out a space somewhere. I'll also put money on the fact that Mayor Nutter doesn't park on the street.

Tonight, when you return home, take your chair out of your spot, and park there, then fold the chair up and bring it inside where it belongs. If enough of you do this, well then, maybe we'll all find parking spots where makeshift urban living rooms once stood. In a city where parking isn't any kind of fun to begin with, let's not make it worse. If you want to save a spot, try leaving your car in it. Works for me. So there, now we're all happy. But when one problem is solved, another invariably arises. When all the snow melts, wherever will we park our chairs?