There was a harvest moon last night. You know what that means.
In Chicago, winters are so bad the wind actually has a name—the Hawk. One bitter January night, as I walked my two-year-old daughter home from the tavern where we’d shared a chicken pot pie, she began to cry. What? On the spot, I made up a song:
Don’t let the Hawk know you’re scared.
Don’t let the Hawk know you’re sad.
Don’t let the Hawk know he’s making you feel bad.
No, we do not cry in the cold!
In Chicago, we have an informal social agreement, that if you shovel out your snow-bound vehicle, you put lawn furniture or other bulky household detritus in the spot to save it, for your return.
It’s called, “Dibs.”
This system is controversial, among jamokes new to Chicago, who believe that laws and regulations should determine social behavior. These types of people also believe that desk jobs in the alderman’s office go to the most qualified applicant.
Their opinions are not to be considered—and they are surely not considered, by any Chicagoan who, with the Hawk tearing his or her parka into to tiny little pieces, has picked, chopped, carved and shoveled a car-sized cave out of a block of ice and snow in order to emancipate a frozen vehicle. No, that car-miner is going to find something in his basement to put in that spot, and he’s going to expect that spot will be there when he returns.
Dibs isn’t about the law. It’s about a larger, more expansive, more Nelson Algrenian definition of fairness.
And some Chicagoans are simply more proactive than others.