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Dibs: It's serious business in Chicago

“Dibs” has caused neighborhood wars in Chicago. Disrespecting “dibs” just isn’t done in the nation’s third largest city. One woman on Chicago’s Northwest Side took to peace-making in her neighborhood by taking a day off work and shoveling out all of the unshoveled parking spots for them, according to a WGN-TV news report on Friday.

Dibs: Chicagoans save parking spaces in snowstorms with a variety of items
Scott Paulson
Dibs - markers that save parking spots in Chicago after New Years snowstorm in 2014
Scott Paulson

What are “dibs?” It’s an age-old practice in Chicago that occurs after every sizable snow storm – perhaps three inches or more as recently seen in the city. People shovel out a parking spot in front of or near their house on their block and claim that city property as their own until the snow on their block is totally removed by the city or simply melts via Mother Nature’s change temperate mood.

The method in which a person claims “dibs” on their public parking spot is to place an item – usually a chair – in the parking space. While chairs - often missing a leg or simply a family-reject of sorts - are usually the method of calling dibs, there are others. People have put out an array of child's toys, child's car seats, stand-up Christmas decorations, and much more in an effort to have a parking space available to them when they return home.

When a person violates one’s “dibs” on a parking space by moving the item from the parking spot and parks there, hell breaks loose in a variety of forms – to say the least.

Incidentally, the kind neighbor on the Northwest Side, in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, who shoveled out her block is Jamie Lynn Ferguson. Interviewed via phone on WGN-TV, she said she just didn’t like seeing her neighbors arguing and fighting over the “dibs” issue and decided to take to the street with a shovel. When asked how her neighbors reacted, she said they were really nice about it.

Some offered to help while others didn’t even own shovels. In Chicago? Yes, some didn’t even own shovels. When asked if she would ever do this again, she said “probably not.” She’s hoping that doing it once will get everyone to pitch in and clear the street in the future. After all, it only takes one person to start a “movement” of shovels. She is – no doubt – the Chicago neighbor all Chicagoans wish they had.

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