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A Conversation About "Dibs."

By Karl Klockars in Miscellaneous on Dec 18, 2008 8:00PM

Do you do "dibs?" Since we're smack dab in the eye of the storm, with 5 inches freshly dumped on us and up to double that coming tonight and tomorrow, we figured this would be an appropriate time to discuss "dibs."


Despite the obvious problems with plowing this year, it's hard to defend the process that has become tradition in Chicago every winter. We've all seen the ironing boards and lawn chairs and milk crates in the street after every snowstorm. But a simple lack of space and effort involved in clearing it doesn't make it right, does it? Even our Esteemed Mayor Daley famously defended the process, equating things like vandalism and destruction of property to a "tradition." Right, in the same way that riots are a "tradition" after Bulls championship victories, Mr. Mayor?

In our completely anecdotal evidence of two days walking to the El and some rubbernecking out of the window, it does seem like dibs has diminished (at least for this year). Maybe change we can believe in carried a shovel with it. And a short, completely unscientific survey of the Chicagoist staff reveals a range of emotions from "dibs is the domain of total scum" to "we shovel other peoples spots because we're awesome human beings." (Which, of course, we are.)

It's understandable to feel that if you put in the sweat equity of clearing out some snow, you want to hang on to it for a while. But what happened to doing something for the sake of doing something good? As for anyone that breaks windows, slashes tires or puts glue in locks in spite, those people deserve swift kicks in the ass.

Here's a short list of some "dibs" resources:

Zorn discusses the etymology of dibs.
An interesting essay on "dibs" by law professor Fred McChesney.
Metafilter discussion on selling "dibs" by Wrigley Field.
A short "dibs" discussion from UofC equating it to property rights and patent law.
The LA Times looks at "dibs."
And finally, here's the last time we posed this question, 2 years ago.

We don't know about you, but we'll be out there with our shovels soon enough, heart attack risk be damned. Pay it forward and all. (That, and we don't have an ironing board we can spare to the elements.) Your thoughts?

"dibs" from Vittrad.