Talkin’ Trash

I first moved to Chicago on a crisp and sunny afternoon in late January. The sky was clean, blue and full of potential.

Excited to be living in a big city for the first time, you can imagine my horror as I exited the taxi cab and was forced to haul my suitcases over a stained, discarded mattress. 

See, in Chicago, folks like to think they “own” parking spots if they dig their car out of the snow. This “ownership” is communicated by blocking the spot with lawn chairs, old tires, saw horses, broken furniture, etc. They call this ritual “dibs.”

It’s nuts.

I am fortunate enough to not own/need a car, so I can only sit back and chuckle at this seasonal ritual and the, ahem, *neighborly* behavior it brings out of people, including this letter below, posted on a street sign next to someone who decided to claim dibs on the wrong block.

I have no idea who posted it but it made me laugh so much this morning that I was nearly late for work.

Take comfort folks, Spring is nearly here!


  1. Jaxy says

    huh huh ha, they do this in boston too. can’t blame them though!

  2. says

    I have never heard of this. It’s a little crazy! Well – no snow here, so what do I know? I love the heartfelt letter, oh so polite but with teeth clenched in anger. Grrr…

  3. says

    DIBS! i was surprised by this too. we don’t do this in MN, we just passively agressively leer at people who steal our hard-won shovelin’ spots.
    parking in chicago is a nightmare. when i lived in lincoln park, more than once i would be at work or whatever, leave my parking spot, circle for an hour or more, and return to the spot i had left and walk home. NO JOKE!

  4. says

    I had not heard of this either, how interesting.

    I would have been late for work, needing to take a picture of the letter as well to show my hubby! LOVE it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. says

    You totally need to send that picture of the note to It’s a favorite pasttime of mine to scour that website. So funny!

  6. says

    That is so funny, I have never heard of that! Stuff that is common in other ports of the US, is totally foreign to the rest of us. thanks for sharing!


  7. says

    Too funny! I’ve heard of this behavior, but never needed to participate myself. Bravo to the person who wrote that letter!

  8. says

    It’s legal in Boston for 24 hours after a snowfall/snow emergency declaration. Yes, LEGAL! But then they keep doing it for the rest of the winter…

  9. says

    Hilarious! This reminds me of Floridian vacation condos. We’d arise early in the morning and take our coffee out to the terrace to inhale the serenity of the Gulf. A glance downwards would find dibs-types putting towels on lounges… this at 6:30 a.m. Supposedly, the pieces of cloth would hold their spots, all day long… or, at least till after brunch. Such stress for vacation-time!! Didn’t phase us, ’cause we’re beach types; they all could keep their lounges AND the pool. 🙂

    It was fifty in Upstate NY, today, and I agree – spring IS right around the corner.

  10. deb says

    I just read your ‘save a parking place’ blog. Pittsburghers have done this forever. I am almost 60 yrs. old and I remember asking my dear Dad why people have chairs in the street?? The neat thing very much like Chicago is that everyone pretty much honors the makeshift space saver. I love it!!

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