There is something to be said about living in an unpopular neighborhood. While the rest of the city is arguing over the mayor’s controversial decision to remove all parking placeholders that people use during snowy weather* during regular trash pickups, this week my trash man greeted me with a smile and warned me to be careful of the icy patches. He ignored my space saver and all the others on my street.
Last month, during one of the snowstorms, my neighbor Sal (who, no matter what the weather, enthusiastically proclaims that it is beautiful out and would be a perfect day for me to run) dug a trench around my car with his snow blower, saving me an hour or more of shoveling. A week ago, when another neighbor who I don’t know thought I had forgotten to put my orange cone in my parking spot to save it, he ran down the street to replace it so no one would park in my spot. Then he apologized for doing it when I returned a few minutes later, mystified about the reappearance of the cone. On Monday, I woke up extra early knowing I would have to clean 3 or so inches of snow off my car, but ended up running late getting out the door after a spilled coffee incident. When I walked outside, I found my car cleared of all snow, with the windshield wipers up so they wouldn’t freeze.
In a city this big and cold, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you have neighbors at all. You never run into anyone you know, and you spend a lot of time wandering around by yourself. Sometimes you default to yelling in your car at people driving like idiots, or to getting cranky when the grocery store is too crowded. Sometimes all it takes is over 100 inches of snow to remind you that after all the whining about long commutes and lack of parking and being stuck indoors, your neighbors will be there with a friendly smile and a helping hand, and Mr. Rogers will be benevolently smiling down on them.
*If you’re not familiar with this practice, city laws say that you can claim a parking spot that you shoveled out for 48 hours after a snow storm. People will use anything and everything to claim their spots, running the gamut from construction cones to milk crates to television sets. This year, the mayor proclaimed after the first blizzard that residents could hold onto their spots indefinitely, until he decided when it was appropriate to ban the space savers.