Walking down my block this morning, I saw something beautiful. About half a dozen vacant parking spots, framed by piles of half-melted, salt-stained, tire-mushed brown-yellow-gray snow — not a crappy patio chair, dinged-up trashcan or stolen construction cone in sight.
While it’s impossible to say whether or not this phenomenon had any connection with the #NoSavesies campaign the Philadelphia Police Department rolled out on Twitter earlier this month, I’ve got to say that the sight warmed my usually spite-filled urbanite heart. City residents have been bitching and bickering about parking since the advent of the automobile — picture two Model T drivers engaging in a Queensbury Rules row over the last spot in front of the millinery shop — and inclement weather manages to bring out the worst in us.
This is why it’s so refreshing that an authority like the PPD, however lighthearted its approach may be, has come out with a crystal-clear opinion on the matter — "saving" post-snowstorm parking spots is selfish bullshit, and you know it. Moreover, it’s in direct violation of the collaborative spirit that anyone who lives in a crowded city should embrace, or at least understand.
The arguments for the pro-savesies lifestyle usually fall into one of two categories (written in all caps because these people are usually yelling):
1) “I SPENT [HIGHLY EXAGGERATED AMOUNT OF TIME] DIGGING THIS SPOT OUT, THEREFORE I, AND ONLY I, HAVE THE RIGHT TO PARK IN IT!”
Come on. It does not take that long to dig a car out of a street spot in the city of Philadelphia. I’ve been doing it for years, with varying levels of snow and varying-sized vehicles. We don’t live in Fargo or The Day After Tomorrow. Strap on those boots, pull on those gloves, snag your shovel and be a non-gender-specific man. If you dig out a spot and it's subsequently taken, get going on another spot. You're not going to die.
Plenty of anti-savesie advocates like to bring up the whole "the street is city property!" issue when bemoaning the pro-savesie camp, but I feel like that argument takes the discussion to an unnecessary level. Chances are that a neighbor who's pulled into your cleared spot scraped his or her vehicle out of another spot nearby — in other words, you guys exerted an identical amount of physical strain. What’s with the sense of entitlement? What makes your shoveling superior to Annie from Alter Street's shoveling? Speaking of effort, though...
2) "MY NEIGHBORS ARE LAZY ASSHOLES WHO WILL STEAL MY SHOVELED SPOT, SO THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I WILL BE ABLE TO PARK WITHIN 50 MILES OF MY HOUSE!"
I'm not suggesting that lazy asshole neighbors don't exist in Philly, or in every city populated by humans on planet earth. They do. But in my experience at least, this pro-savesie argument is often invoked because people are too scared or lazy to interact with their neighbors in the first place. Instead of assuming all your neighbors suck, why not check in on some of them after a big storm? Work together to shovel out cars. Work together to shovel the walks of the elderly, or the walks of vacant properties. Pulling a savesie move is a blatant affront to this type of basic interaction. And it's antithetical to what living in a city is all about.
We don't live in the suburbs, with expensive plow services that snow-blow our private driveways while we sit inside in Land's End turtlenecks and watch Downton Abbey. We live in the city, which means we live on top of each other. That causes plenty of problems, but it's up to us to work around them — even starting with something small, like channeling the energy reserved for savesies into action that benefits someone other than ourselves.
Take it from Olney resident Amir Goodwin, quoted by Queen Muse of NBC Philadelphia yesterday:
Amir Goodwin, who has been living on the 1400 block of West Chew Avenue in the Olney section of the city for nearly 25 years spent most of his afternoon clearing his street’s sidewalks of snow. He says it’s only fair that neighbors help one another shovel and share parking spaces when there’s been a major snow storm.
“I do it as a courtesy. I know their families, their grandchildren and all, you know. I think that we should share, everybody should share, just like you share with helping people dig out,” Goodwin said.
Thank you, Mr. Goodwin! You get it. #NoSavesies isn’t about the police screwing with your daily life. It’s about being a better Philadelphian.
Follow @DrewLazor on Twitter.