Saturday, February 5, 2011

I've become that which I hate

If you don't live in Boston or one of the other old-growth cities with narrow streets, few driveways, and lots of snow, you might be unfamiliar with the tradition of claiming your on street parking spot using a placed object. The traditional things are road cones or folding chairs, but weirder stuff like hockey sticks, kitchen garbage cans, or busts of Jesus are common too.

Actually, the Jesus bust is kind of brilliant. Who's gonna steal a spot from Jesus?

I generally dislike the whole thing. It's a street spot, right? Why do you get to keep it?

Well, now I know why. This is my first winter where I have to use street parking. Previously, I've always had a driveway, but no more. I've quickly learned that it's a different world, and today, I did what I swore I'd never do. I carried a porch chair to the street, pulled out, and gravely, solemnly, placed it in my vacated spot. A single tear rolled down my cheek as I drove away.

What could have driven me to such lengths? Such horror? Such depravity?

Two things. First, I've cleared that spot out many times now. Boston has gotten a metric ass ton of snow this year, and none of it has melted. Every time, I go out and clear the car out whether I plan on driving or not. This is because my fair city ticketed me once for not clearing my car off. It's frankly a pain to clear a street parking spot. You have to remove snow on the car, in front and behind, and then clear out all that compacted snow that the plows left all down the side. That's a special brand of crappy.

Aside from the physical labor, there's another problem that you don't have to deal with when you have a driveway: parking spaces vanish in the winter. If there's an empty spot when the snow hits, that spot is gone forever. Best case scenario, it doesn't get plowed. Either someone will drive into it, turning it into a mess of compacted, icy snow, or the snow will just pile up until someone wants it bad enough to shovel it. Worst case, it gets plowed under. Once a snow plow decides to push a pile of road snow into a space, it's gone forever until the snow all melts.

My street has currently lost about 70% of its available parking spots to mammoth snow drifts. That means that when I drive somewhere, there's a pretty good chance that when I come back, I simply won't have somewhere to park on my street. And since all the streets around are having the same problem, I can't guarantee that I'll be able to park anywhere.

So I save my spot with a chair while I run to the grocery store. It's not for convenience, or some sense of territoriality or ownership. I just want to be able to park somewhere when I get back. If you drive by and see my chair, don't be mad at me. I hate what I've had to resort to. We're both victims of a capricious god and a city that isn't able to handle comprehensive snow removal.

Maybe I should look for a Buddy Christ statue to hold my spot. Then at least my spot will be saved with a smile.

1 comment:

Gaby said...

Perhaps I've spent to much time in portland but what about meeting neighbors and collaboratively shovel all possible spaces. Provide pizza and hot toddies it might work. Oh good I need to get out of portland. Soon I won't be abel to be snarky.