We couldn't have a year pass in Boston without rehashing the old argument of reserving parking spaces with household items during a snow emergency. This year the debate rages just as virulently as ever. It's basically trench warfare out there in the streets of Boston during and after a snow storm dumps mounds and mounds of the white stuff everywhere in sight.
The parking and overall traffic situation is already a major problem for the city. The amount of cars on the roads and cars that need to be parked on the streets is an ever increasing proposition, with no relief in sight. With construction projects blighting the city at every other intersection, the amount of room to maneuver and/or park your vehicle anywhere in the city is of the ever increasing difficulty variety.
When there is news of an impending snow storm in the greater Boston area, a kind of general mania sets in amongst its population. Suddenly people realize that they have to rush out and do 5 more errands. Housewives rush to their mini-vans to go pick up their dozens of kids early from school. Everyone dashes to their car to either leave work early or do those last few deliveries. Public service personnel and the transportation industry deploy all of their assets to aid those who feel the need to flock around as if a nuclear device was about to be detonated somewhere in the city. Every car that can start its engine in the entire greater Boston area hits the roads in some form or another. And if they're lucky that's the only thing they'll hit in the upcoming bedlam.
The first snow storm of the year this year resulted in massive traffic jams throughout the state of Massachusetts resulting in 7,8,9, hour commutes for some people depending on just how ambitious of a journey was being undertaken.
The 'Deval Crawl', as its come to be known, was probably the single worst experience commuters have ever endured in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The overall chaos, which represented a confluence of factors including the mania of the people and clear mismanagement of the situation by state and local officials, is not the end of the story however.
The mania does not recede when the snow ceases. In fact it intensifies as frustration slowly builds in those seeking to navigate the now almost impassible in some cases, streets of greater Boston. The surface area of the already over crowded streets is reduced because of the massive piles of snow buffeting parked cars and covering street signs entirely.
Then the real fun begins when the perennial debate and struggle I call 'Space Wars' ensues. Vigilantism and 'street justice' are the order of the day when Bostonian sets upon fellow Bostonian in the struggle to find a place the park their car. In recent years, the Mayor has weighed in, ordering residents not to deploy household items into the street in order to reserve a shoveled-out parking space. But despite the pleas of Mayor 'mumbles' Menino, all manner of items have been and continue to be employed as an informal disincentive to park in "some one's" space all day long when they are at work or simply out on the streets causing grid lock.
The situation has gotten so out of hand that last year a city councilor from South Boston came out in support of residents reserving their little piece of public property indefinitely with whatever manner of unsightly piece of house hold refuse. The mania caused by snow storms even drives many space holders to keep their devices in place on the public streets long after the majority of the snow has melted. It does start to look exceedingly silly to see old toilets and rusty lawnmowers sitting on the side of the road when merely a few hand fulls of very dirty snow are strewn around. Only in an old school town like Boston would so many residents defend the practice of reserving spaces like this with a straight face. People are set in their ways, and are immune to the use of logic in order to dislodge a long held view that during a storm a given person has the right to temporarily posses a piece of public property.
Read this Boston Herald article for a good laugh and view the comments section of the article to get a glimpse into the mindset of those who are proponets of this sociological phenomena.