The Friday File………….Does ‘Dibs’ Do It?

Dibs Parking Spot Chairs

[photo courtesy of]

Some of you may be familiar with the term, ‘dibs’; however, until I came to Chicago, I had never heard this word relative to the activity some Chicagoans partake in on snowy days.

‘Dibs’ is the action of taking an old chair, lawn chair, or some other noticeable apparatus to mark your newly shoveled parking spot.  Really.

How did this ‘dibby’ demonstration of temporary ownership of public spaces begin?  Ah, I thought you’d never ask.  Let’s go back to the superlative snowstorm of 1979.

1978 snow

[photo courtesy of]

Almost 90 inches of snow fell that winter.  After shoveling mammoth mounds of the white stuff, Chicagoans concluded that their efforts should be rewarded for the duration of the season; thus, chairs, et al. were placed in newly shoveled spots in a show of claimed territory.

Apparently the tradition has carried on to present day; however, it seems that even the slightest sniglet of snowfall will cause the broken, lop-sided, lousy looking chairs to rear their ugly heads yet again.

Dibs Parking Spot Lopsided chair

[photo courtesy of]

You might be wondering if ‘dibs’ is politically sanctioned? In the technical sense, no.  However, former Mayor Richard M. Daley was quoted as saying, “I tell people, if someone spends all that time digging their car out, do not drive in that spot.  This is Chicago.  Fair warning.”  Eek!!

[quote taken from]

Ah, but not to be outdone by the delightful ‘dibs’ faction, in 2011 an ‘anti-dibs’ campaign was founded by the marketing company, “Proximity Chicago” (yes, that is their name!)  The campaign, known as, “Chair-Free Chicago”, provided signs and fliers to individuals who wished to declare their neighborhoods as definite, “dibs-free” zones.

Dibs Parking Spot Tree Sign

[photo courtesy of]

Now here’s someone who is hoping that the divine will save their parking space:

Dibs Parking Spot Mary

[photo courtesy of]

Here we have a Christmas ornament, the Virgin Mary misplaced from the manger to adorn a ‘dibs’ decree.  Oh my!

 Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your newly shoveled parking spot, your chair is gone! What, where did it go?  This past January, a Chicagoan thought he would cash in on the decades-long tradition of ‘dibs’:  didn’t he gather up hundreds of ‘dibbed’ chairs, and attempted to sell them on “Craigslist”!  For those of you who live in parts of the globe that do not have such a list, “Craigslist” is an online, enormous list of goods and services for sale.  I would call it a ‘free for all’ if it were in fact, free.  My play on words relates to the fact that “Craigslist” is filled with anything and everything one can possibly imagine, and is listed for sale.  Perhaps some things on “Craigslist” are free.  But not the ‘dibbed’ chairs!

The ad has since been removed, but here is what the ‘dib-destroyer’ declared:  “In driving around the Northside these past few days I’m seeing hundreds of chairs being abandoned on the streets. I’ve collected about 350 various chairs… I’m selling each chair for $5, regardless of condition or smell.”

[quote courtesy of].

Dibs Parking Spot walker

[photo courtesy of]

Do you know the song, “MacArthur Park”?  There is a line that goes, “Someone left the cake out in the rain.” For whatever reason after finding this picture, I cannot help but hum to myself, “Someone left the walker out in the snow.”  Perhaps it is just funny to me.  Yes, I am sure that’s it.

If you find yourself in Chicago on a snowy side street somewhere, please do me a favor.  Watch out for seemingly misplaced objects set in snow.  Chances are they have been caught up in the game of claiming a snow-free spot.  And I call ‘dibs’ on that remark!


  27 comments for “The Friday File………….Does ‘Dibs’ Do It?

  1. March 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Ugh I’ve been wanting to put a chair every time some douchebag parked on my freshly shoveled spot, makes me wish I owned a tow truck 😛


    • March 28, 2014 at 10:44 am

      *LOL* Andy, if you lived here, you’d fit right in! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Cher xo


      • March 28, 2014 at 10:45 am

        Thank you! so I’ll toss a couch on my spot then 😉 xo


      • March 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

        I wish I could find a picture of someone doing that for ‘dibs’! *LOL*


      • March 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

        Oh I’m sure given time lol


      • March 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

        I’ll keep you posted! 😉


  2. Don
    March 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Dibs sound a lot like a term we used and still use, “dabs.” Not sure if you use it too. But if you dabs it, it means you lay claim to it first e.g. I dabs sitting by the window. 🙂


    • March 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Don! I haven’t heard, “dabs” used in that context either. To me, one would “dab” a little bit of soap on a stain, for example. Or from what I am told, a “dabber” is something used in Bingo games to mark a square! Don’t you just love the english language? *grin* I think I might have to use, “dabs” this weekend! I shall endeavor to use it at least once! Thank you, Don! Hugs, Cher xo


    • March 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      I haven’t heard “dabs” before, but that’s certainly what I’d use “dibs” for. Curious regional variations they are.


      • March 29, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Isn’t though, Joseph? I often wonder the origin to these regional differences. I hadn’t heard of “dabs” either! I dare say if I used it here, someone would think I was using one of those “Canadian” words! *grin* Cher xo


      • Don
        March 30, 2014 at 7:46 am

        Quite amazing, isn’t it?


      • March 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm

        It really is Don! Yes!! Cher xo


  3. March 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    We use the term “We’ve got first dibs on something….” to say we’ve got the first right to something. Like if you’re going to an auction, you might say to a friend “I’ve got first dibs on the chair”, etc., etc. Since there’s never any snow shovelling in North Cyprus, luckily there are no spare chairs hanging around!


    • March 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      *LOL* I am glad there is no snow there! If there was snow, I wonder if this Chicago tradition might make its way to call ‘dibs’ all over the planet! Did you note what Don said about, ‘dabs’? Perhaps there is someone who combines the two words and calls, ‘dibdabs’ on the chair at the auction!! Cher xo


  4. March 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Interesting and humorous peculiarity of Chicagoans. Over here we also have a similar peculiarity. In the city where public parking spots are few and far between, the shopkeepers and residents place plastic chairs to stop others from parking in “their spots” – that is a typical way of saying “don’t park on my spot”!! Funny the way people think! Thanks for sharing your post, Cher. 🙂 Love, Iris. Have a good weekend. 🙂


    • March 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Iris! Oh isn’t that neat! I think someone should write, ‘dibs’ on one of those chairs and see what others think! Yes, we humans can be most peculiar in our ways, can’t we, Iris? Thank you, and I hope you have a good weekend too! I call ‘dibs’ for both of us to have a good weekend! 🙂 Love, Cher xo


      • March 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm

        At least, both of us can have a good laugh, Cher!! Let’s go and observe more funny side of human nature. I guess we too have our idiosyncrasies. Love, Iris. 😉


      • March 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        That’s very true, Iris! I agree; let’s do that! Oh I KNOW I have a list of idiosyncrasies. *LOL* Love, Cher xo


      • March 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm



  5. March 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Cher, you know when One Way gets nominated I am going to give a shout out to one of the best blogs out there- yours! So you have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. Are you tired of being that good 🙂
    Your friend, Laura


    • March 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Oh Laura, how can I thank you! This is absolutely wonderful! Talk about feeling incredibly honored! I am so grateful! Thank you a million times!!! With big hugs, Cher xo


  6. March 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Great post, Cher. My only use of “dibs” my whole life, has been to declare, “that is mine,” or, “I saw it first, so it belongs to me.” I have never heard of the usage in Chicago that you wrote about in your blog. I looked it up in Wikipedia, and found out “dibs” is also used in the same way in Boston and Pittsburgh! I think the “dibs” chairs is a good idea, except for the fact that it isn’t a nice aesthetic. What about pots of flowers? Er, not in the winter.


    • March 29, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      Oh thank you!! Yes, me too; but haven’t heard the word that often. Hey, that’s interesting! So Boston and Pittsburgh are ‘dibbers’ too! *LOL* I agree with you; something else besides a broken-down chair. However, I am thinking since this is a big ‘ol city, the ‘something else’ would be gone in a Chicago minute!! Cher xo


      • March 29, 2014 at 10:11 pm

        Right! I guess it’s been a long time since I lived in the city. Just a memory lapse! 🙂


      • March 31, 2014 at 10:16 am

        *LOL* We should challenge each other to use the word, “dibs” this week, in honor of these big ‘ol cities! *grin* Hugs, Cher xo


  7. Professions for PEACE
    March 29, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Oh so hilarious Cher!! Your funniest article yet, at least judging by my huge laughter. Oh this was fun. Thank you SO much for this great laugh, along with the public service ‘fair warning’ to tourists like me that there just might be a Virgin Mary is the snow! Oh man, and the walker? And your song!? Hilarious Cher. Love it!!!
    Happy hugs, Gina xo


    • March 31, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Oh my dear Gina! *LOL* Thank you so much! I try to ‘call it like I see it’ if you know what I mean! Yes, I love how you call it a public service to tourist! hehehehe That is funny! Thank you always for your wonderful words; they mean so much to me! Big hugs to you, Cher xo


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