Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Courtesy: Knowing the Local Rules

I got in enough trouble driving the streets of Philadelphia in past years, I don't even try anymore. After spending a fortune on parking violation fines, it's cheaper to just take cabs around the city.

The City of Brotherly Love had about 2 feet of snow on the ground last week when I was scheduled to fly in. The snow and high winds delayed our flights a bit but the runways and tarmac were nice and clean by the time we touched down. Notsomuch Center City where the old walk-ups and commerical buildings are tucked into the city blocks like crayons into a 16-pack crayola box ~ it's a tight fit with bumper to bumper on-street parking in the neighorhoods and no where to push all that snow. When the ploughs come down car-lined streets to clear them they pile snow up against the cars which are already buried, creating a icy mountain range that line the sidewalks.

To say it would take hours to dig out one car from the range after that big of a storm is no exagerration. It takes hours and hours of back-breaking shoveling. Shoveling is hard work in my part of the country too but we've got lots of space for the piles of snow. So it was interesting to learn about a local courtesy that is recognized in Philadelphia, one that is important enough that the mayor was on the 11PM news Friday night, reminding everyone while it's not law..............

IF you spend hours digging your car out from the snow where you park on the street in the neighborhood where you live, the space you cleared belongs to you. When you are finished shoveling you pull your car into the street, grab whatever is handy and place it in the cleared parking spot to save it. I saw kitchen chairs, a ladder and a lawn chair "holding" parking spaces this weekend.

Due to the record-breaking amount of snow they're receiving in Philly and the level of frustration that is building in folks as they deal with it, the mayor wanted to remind everyone to play nice. It's not a law, but it's a commonly recognized and honored courtesy the city expects residents to respect: you if shovel a space, it's yours. (I'd add....if your neighbor shovels out your space, you owe him a pan of lasagne per month for life or carnal favors on demand, whichever he prefers. Remember, that's over 2 feet of snow, folks. A plate of cookies isn't gonna cut it this time.)

Good system. I like it.
When I flew out on Thursday of last week, I forgot to put my ice scraper and broom back in the trunk of my car when I loaded up my suitcases. After 5 days of snow and ice on the top level of the airport parking ramp this past week, I had to dig out my car with an empty cassette tape box, a rolled-up Lands End catalog and a frozen bottle of my favorite Berry-flavored Propel. I surely coulda used a good neighbor with a broom this morning.

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