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Dibs: Someone Smashed My Car. With a Chair.

January 27, 2014

Have you ever seen or read about that darling tradition in Chicago, where when it snows, people will shovel out a parking space on the street, and to call “dibs,” they will place old plastic lawn chairs on that spot, thereby pronouncing that spot to be THEIRS, FOR FOREVER AND A DAY?

How sweet.

Now, everyone knows not to move these chairs and park in these toxic spots. Though “dibs” is ridiculous and selfish–the people of Chicago are forced to accept it. Because these people–the ones who do think that they can take ownership of a parking space on a public street–are jerks and we all know how jerks act: like assholes. No one wants to rile up an asshole, certainly not me.

And so we all put up with it.

A couple of weeks ago, when the Polar Vortex first moved in (PS, IT’S BA-AACK) and Chicago was lovingly dubbed “Chiberia”–we received a couple of inches of snow and the threat of -50 degree wind chill. Like clockwork on that frigid Sunday night, the “special” few were outside shoveling their spots and marking their territory with chairs of all sorts.

Three days later when the vortex moved out and the snow was beginning to melt, we noticed that the chairs had been thrown to the sidewalk and all spots were released from their Chi-captives. So, naturally, we parked our car on the street without giving it a second thought.

Oh, how very wrong we were.

The next morning, my husband walked out to our car, not to find a fresh layer of snow, but to encounter a flurry of a hundred furious little white pieces of plastic lawn chair smashed all over our car. Our Brand. New. Car. A 2014 Subaru Crosstrek, our first major purchase of our lives, impeccable, new-scented, sexy, brand new car, purchased only two weeks prior.

Three angry dents, two ruthless patches of chipped paint, and one bitter broken taillight. $1,600 of damages.

I cried.

And then I felt fury. And then rage. And then hate.

And so we knocked on the neighbor’s door. The two-flat brownstone that watched over our car as someone retched wrath all over our vehicle.

Of course, a very ancient, old man slowly opened the door. Of course, his name turned out to be Manfred.

“Oh hello, how can I help you?” Even his voice was old, hoarse with age. Our angry confidence left us.

“Hi….” My husband looks at me. My face is blank, clueless as to our next play. “We were just wondering,” he continues politely and kindly, “if you knew anything about that parking spot there.” He pointed to the scene of the crime.

“Yes, yes. My grandson shoveled out that spot. He worked so hard to clear it out. He works nights. And when he came home all the chairs were thrown about and everything was upside down. He worked so hard.”

“Yeah, we saw that the chairs were thrown. Someone smashed our car with one of the chairs.”

“Really? That is terrible. I don’t know what happened, all of my chairs are gone, thrown everywhere.” Old brittle words.

“Maybe it was an angry teen or something…Well, thanks for your help.” We turn away, feeling confused and sad that we had to confront a very old man about something so ridiculous and yet so infuriating.

“Yes, it was nice talking to you.” Manfred shuts the door with care.

I fell into a dibs depression. I was angry because we didn’t touch the idiot chairs. I was mad because jerks get away with such things. I was sick because people act in worse ways. I was sad because people are victims to much worse. I was guilty because I cared so much about something so material. All this, because of dibs.

That was the beginning of January, and I’ve had some time to cool off. Our sweet baby car is in the body shop now. We think we’ve identified the perpetrator and have decided to avoid him at all costs and move on, because let’s be honest, he looks capable of more than an angry chair smashing.

The lesson I learned? Don’t park anywhere near anything with any semblance of a chair. If you want to boycott Dibs, the only option is to shovel out all the spots. Or, if you want to boycott Dibs, but don’t want your car to get smashed with a chair, sell the chair on Craigslist.

Also, consider moving to the suburbs where owning a garage is actually feasible.

Remember good people do exist. Fight hate with love.

Oh, wait, and yes, having insurance is a very good thing.



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