Snow Parking: Let's Help Newbies Catch Our Drift

In this week's in­stall­ment of River­ward Rants, Joe tackles an age old is­sue: the etiquette of sav­ing a park­ing spot in a snowstorm.

It’s already Decem­ber, and that means winter.

Winter means snowstorms.

And snowstorms mean you’ll be dig­ging your car out in the morn­ing.

It’s a head­ache.

And, like every year, it’s the duty of every nat­ive river-ward res­id­ent to help edu­cate our new hip­ster neigh­bors on park­ing etiquette dur­ing and after a bliz­zard.

It’s simple to us: You dig the spot, you keep the spot, and you stay mind­ful of the needs of oth­ers on the block. Many new­bies, though, just can’t seem to catch on.

Don’t get frus­trated, nat­ives.

Be pa­tient and re­mem­ber that many of these fine folks of­ten come from the sub­urbs where snow park­ing isn’t an is­sue, since their former neigh­bor­hoods were al­most en­tirely made of drive­ways.

I still re­mem­ber one of, what I call, our first “hip­ster win­ters.”

In fact, I saw my very first “New Fishtown­er” in the winter of 2003, a time be­fore art gal­ler­ies began spon­tan­eously ma­ter­i­al­iz­ing throughout the neigh­bor­hood. These early PBR Pil­grims, land­ing Ply­mouth Rock­ishly in Fishtown and Kens­ing­ton, had a con­fused re­ac­tion to Philly snow-park­ing prac­tices.

They seemed to won­der: “Why are these people drag­ging their trash cans in­to the street?”

As the years went by, I star­ted to think that the hip­sters had plenty of time to learn the ropes about snowstorm park­ing.

But no, not even close.

In the winter of 2009, at least one pro­ceeded to walk around Fishtown leav­ing whiny notes ex­plain­ing how the an­onym­ous au­thor was su­per-duper angry that we nat­ives had the au­da­city to save the park­ing spaces we spent hours dig­ging out by ourselves.

In posts on­line, some users even prom­ised to walk through the neigh­bor­hood yank­ing spot-sav­ing ob­jects from the street.

But things changed last year, when Moth­er Nature dropped that mam­moth snow­ball of death on Philly. 

The nat­ive Fishtown­ers saw the in­com­ing hip­sters — usu­ally such a gentle bunch, what with their lib­er­al-arts de­grees, char­coal paint­ings and lov­ably un­kempt fa­cial hair — go on the of­fens­ive.

I didn’t know it was pos­sible to shovel snow so furi­ously while wear­ing such tight pants!

There were hip­ster dudes plow­ing through the winter sludge in the early-morn­ing hours, just like the rest of us nat­ives.

I half-ex­pec­ted them to hook up snow blowers to their Vespa scoot­ers.

But soon the situ­ation got ugly.

Now, I don’t mind if someone liv­ing on my street digs a spot in front of my house and then plops a re­cyc­ling bin there to save the spot. But that year, prob­lems star­ted when some of these hip­sters began sav­ing two or three park­ing spots — then left their trash cans there for a week.

Worse still, some de­cided to put cans in­to the street days be­fore the bliz­zard even hit.

This year, I’m sur­prised these guys didn’t start sav­ing their own park­ing spots in Oc­to­ber. If this keeps up, the nat­ives will be forced to re­spond in kind, and pretty soon you won’t be able to drive down Thompson Street without slam­ming in­to a dozen trash cans.

So, we need to edu­cate our new neigh­bors.

Here are some point­ers for park­ing in the neigh­bor­hood when it snows:

• It’s OK to save a park­ing spot in front of someone else’s house, but be reas­on­able. After a day or two, look for an­oth­er space and let your neigh­bor claim the spot.

• Some­times you’re just out of luck and have to park a few blocks away from your house. You’re a big boy, you could use the walk.

• If you must leave an angry note on a wind­shield, put your name on it. Nobody likes an­onym­ous rage. And if you’re that angry about the car that be­longs to the guy next door, why not ap­proach him like an adult?

• When you’re re­spect­ful of your neigh­bors’ needs, they’re more likely to help dig your car out when you need a hand — all your neigh­bors, even that scary guy with the tat­toos on his fore­arms.

• And fi­nally, skinny jeans just aren’t good for shov­el­ing. They’re prob­ably not good for any­thing, but they’re def­in­itely not good for shov­el­ing.

Every­body get that? OK, let’s not mess up a tra­di­tion­al Philly prac­tice by bust­ing up our neigh­bors’ groove every time we hear a fore­cast for some flur­ries just be­cause we’re over-eager to find a place to park.

The ag­grav­a­tion isn’t worth it. ••

River­ward Rants re­flects the opin­ions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown res­id­ent, area nat­ive and writer of the Web site PhillyNeigh­, where he makes cyn­ic­al (and un­censored) com­ments about life in the river­wards. He can be reached at

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