In a comment to this post, Susanna, of Cut on the Bias, who now lives in Alabama, wrote about the frustration she experienced while living in New Jersey and having to dig out from a nasty snow storm.
Actually, when I lived in Jersey I didn’t mind the snow. It was digging out when you parked on the street, and the snowplow kept coming by to rebury your car, and the snow took up 2-3 parking spaces on each already-overcrowded block for at least a week, and someone took your clean space after you busted your butt to get your car out (they even moved the trashcan you put there to save the space)… Grrrr..!
The town Susanna refers to is the town in which I was raised. In my part of the town, as in hers, very few of the homes (many of which were two-family homes) had driveways. Hence, the only available parking was on the street. As such, parking was difficult in the best of times (even back when the one-car-family was the rule). When visiting someone, it was always prudent to allow a bit of extra time to find a parking spot (We always called it a parking “spot” rather than a parking “place”).
Because parking spots were so difficult to find, we all had to be expert “parallel parkers.” Hell, I could ease my ’64 Chevy Impala into spots with about twelve inches on each end of the car to spare. (If I were to try that now, I would damage three cars.)
So, while in good weather finding a parking spot was at best a challenge and, at worst, aggravating as hell, a snow storm transformed the parking spot thing into something deadly serious.
After a snow storm, the snow plows would pile the snow against the cars on either side of the street. Often the snow would be halfway up the windows and, in particularly bad storms, the snow would literally reach the roof. Mind you, I’m not talking about easily movable, fluffy, powdery snow, bur rather the heavy, salt and dirt-laden slop that the plows push off the street. For those who did not move fast enough with the shovel following the snowfall, this slop turned to ice and chunks of “snow” with the consistency of boulders.
What made a bad situation worse was finding a place to throw the “snow.” Shoveling it into the street was often self-defeating because the plow would just push it all back. And one damned well better not toss it near a spot that someone had previously dug out. Consequently, each heavy shovel full often had to be walked between cars and deposited on the small patch of grass between the sidewalk and the curb.
Digging out a car after a bad snowstorm could take the better part of a day and rendered that spot a prized, hard-won piece of real estate for which an official “claim” was made. As Susanna pointed out, this was accomplished by leaving a garbage can in the vacant spot.
Overwhelmingly, people observed this unwritten “Code of the East.” However, occasionally some
lazy, inconsiderate, miserable prick person, perhaps too farookin’ stupid to realize the purpose of the garbage can or what went into shoveling out the spot unfamiliar with the local custom, would remove the garbage can and take the spot – a parking spot poacher.
I am aware of a few garbage cans accidentally finding their way to the parking spot-poacher’s windshield. Sometimes the “owner” of the spot, with an eye toward confrontation, would intentionally “double park,” thereby blocking the P-spot poacher from getting out of the spot. This required the p-spot-poacher to knock on doors in the neighborhood to try to locate the owner of the double-parked car (i.e. the “owner” of the spot). It was not uncommon for the owner sit by his window and enjoy watching the p-spot poacher frantically go from house to house while freezing his ass off.
Of course, when the “owner” was finally located, things almost always got sideways real fast. Sometimes, the confrontation would even attract a small crowd of locals, none of whom ever took the side of the p-spot-poacher.
I seem to recall one such confrontation during which my uncle (sort of a Sopranos-type fellow) threatened to kill a p-spot poacher and stuff his dead ass into a garbage can if he ever committed the offense again, and if he didn’t “shut the fuck up” and immediately move his car.
Occasionally, the police would be called, but most of members of the police force lived in town, and they understood the Code of the East. So, other than preventing the spot poacher’s demise, the cops were never much help to p-spot poachers.
Besides, at least back then, killing a p-spot poacher constituted justifiable homicide.
I have not lived in that town in decades, but if I were to drive there tomorrow, I would never, ever think of moving someone’s garbage can.
I know the Code of the East.