Terrible Snowstorm Etiquette of the Day: The Preemptive Chair Strike

How not to save parking spots during a historic snowfall.

Image
Tania deLuzuriaga

The above photo comes to us from friend of Cities Tania deLuzuriaga in Boston, where residents have been bracing for an expected two feet of snow this weekend. If you are not from a part of the country with severe winter weather, you may be unfamiliar with the native practice of placing furniture in the street to stake out parking spots. The anonymous Savin Hill driver behind this chair and garbage bin, however, is doing it all wrong.

Snowstorm spot-saving is a touchy subject – also an art form – but the generally agreed-upon etiquette is this: If you spend 45 minutes shoveling your car out from under a two-foot snow bank, you have a reasonable right to save that real estate for your return. A parking space is public property…until someone has thrown her back out liberating it from a blizzard.

There is some obvious gray area here (if you only had to spend two minutes shoveling out your car, or if the obstructive snow bank was merely ankle-deep, or if everyone knows you have four-wheel drive, your neighbors will likely consider you a giant jerk). But the guiding rule is "you work for it, you get to claim it."

Our above preemptive spot-saver seems to be flouting the first half of this principle. No one gets to save spots before the first snowfall, and certainly not without sacrificing some real sweat in the process (we’re told this guy had his street furniture parked by 9 a.m., which makes his offense all the more deserving of ridicule).

Our sympathies – and a bit of jealousy – are with everyone in the Northeast this weekend. But don’t be a bad neighbor about your parking spots (or, if you have such bad neighbors yourself, please rat on them below).

Above photo courtesy of Tania deLuzuriaga.

About the Author

  • Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific StandardGOODThe Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.