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To Dibs or Not to Dibs, That Is the Question

By Patty Wetli | Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't take my parking space, but help yourself to a street-side serenade. Photo by Patty Wetli.

In the wake of last week’s blizzard, we heard countless stories of Chicagoans coming together as a community, helping out their fellow man, blah, blah, blah. And then the dibs wars started.

Where you stand on this issue likely depends on whether you’re a transplant or a native or whether you park your car on the street or have a nice, cushy garage. I definitely have my opinions.

Whichever camp you’re in—pro- or anti-dibs—you’ve got to hand it to the creativity of people participating in this Chicago tradition. There is some fascinating stuff littering the streets–where people find room to house these items year-round is a mystery to the storage-challenged among us.

Sure, you’ve got your standard-issue folding chairs and buckets. But I’ve also seen what looked to be a microphone stand propping up a broom, a Casio keyboard and, my personal favorite, what appeared to be a portable toilet for a disabled person. (TMI—I do not need to know that much about my neighbors.) A set of snow-covered chairs angled toward each other, as if in conversation, struck me as downright artistic.

So tell us readers, how do you feel about dibs? And what are some of the more unusual items you’ve seen on the streets? Send photos and/or stories to samantha@centersquarejournal.com or add photos to the CSJ Flickr pool.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619468101 Joshua Wentz

    If I wanted to live in a city where the streets were filled with garbage, I’d live in New York. Dibs is a disgraceful way to say “I wish to not be part of my community.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=790794286 Robert Nagy

    Having lived in a number of snowy places, dibs is not unique to chicago. If you are going to make the effort to clean a spot (while other lazy folks are not), then there is a certain equity to the practice. I have not seen the retribution here that you see in other places (eg slashed tires) where dibs was not respected. I’ve also noticed that Chicago uses nicer stuff for saving spots. Out east, it really is just all trash (otherwise it would be stolen in minutes).

  • http://twitter.com/GrantGannon Grant Gannon

    I watched someone claim dibs on a spot behind my car yesterday morning. That’s all fine and good were it not for the fact that the person DID NOT CLEAR the space. They simply took another space someone else had cleared last Wednesday after the storm. I know, because I was out there at the same time clearing my space. The guy finally moved his truck Sunday or Monday only to have someone come along and take advantage of his hard work. For shame.

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  • Anonymous

    I have street parking, and I cleared my car and spot the day after the big snow storm. But when I had to move my car, I did so without claiming “dibs”. My block is public parking. No one has the right to claim a spot. We share these spots as part of a community. Putting your ugly crap in a spot is a bully tactic. You are relying on the idea that someone will see your stuff and assume that if they move it to take a spot that they will be putting their car and themselves in danger. That is being a bully! And there’s only one way to deal with a bully, punch him square in the nose. I’m not saying literally punch anyone, but these items should be removed from the street (donated to charity perhaps), and if someone is spotted “claiming dibs” they should be verbally confronted for their aggressive tactics and their negative effects on our community.

  • Anonymous

    I have street parking, and I cleared my car and spot the day after the big snow storm. But when I had to move my car, I did so without claiming “dibs”. My block is public parking. No one has the right to claim a spot. We share these spots as part of a community. Putting your ugly crap in a spot is a bully tactic. You are relying on the idea that someone will see your stuff and assume that if they move it to take a spot that they will be putting their car and themselves in danger. That is being a bully! And there’s only one way to deal with a bully, punch him square in the nose. I’m not saying literally punch anyone, but these items should be removed from the street (donated to charity perhaps), and if someone is spotted “claiming dibs” they should be verbally confronted for their aggressive tactics and their negative effects on our community.

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