Originally Published: April 30, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: When it’s snowed and you’ve shoveled clear a parking place for yourself, is it OK for other people to park in the spot you’ve cleared when you’re elsewhere and not occupying it? What is the common courtesy that should be adhered to?
Recently, our town had over 16 inches of snow. My friend is a single mom in her mid-40s who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She rents her home and has no off-street parking. Her teenage son shoveled a parking space for her in front of their residence along the public street. She left in her vehicle for one of her treatments, and upon returning, she found that a vehicle was parked in the spot her son had shoveled out, and there were no more shoveled-out spaces.
She was extremely upset by this unkind gesture and posted her feelings on Facebook, where she received many responses from people who were angry on her behalf. Their suggestions included covertly doing destructive things to the car that had parked in her spot. Someone suggested covering the vehicle back up with snow. Other people suggested placing cinder blocks or traffic cones within the space to keep others from using it.
I have mixed feelings on this. Although in a perfect world common courtesy would always be observed, reality says that it is, after all, public parking along a public street, and the person who parked there had no idea of my friend’s personal situation. That driver simply saw a nice open place to park.
Dear Thinking: I’m with you. The person who took your friend’s spot most likely thought nothing other than, “Lucky me!” We humans tend to be self-absorbed that way, unfortunately.
Shoveling snow back onto the car would have been vindictive and would have required a lot of effort just for the sake of being petty. Putting cones or cinder blocks as place holders would have sent a clearer message that it was reserved, but it wouldn’t have stopped any truly inconsiderate person from parking there anyway.
In many cities throughout the U.S., a person with a disability can apply to have a handicapped parking space designated on the street outside his or her home if off-street parking isn’t available. There are restrictions on eligibility. (Some cities disqualify people who will have a DMV-issued disability placard for less than a year.) Check your city’s website for more information.
Dear Annie: I’m a recent college graduate. I have a job, but I’m barely scraping by. My sister-in-law’s birthday is coming up, and I’m running really low on funds at the moment. She got me a really nice gift basket for my birthday last year. She’s not materialistic, but I want to get her a generous gift to show my appreciation. It’s starting to stress me out. I could use my credit card, but I’m really trying not to use that whenever I’m in a pinch. Any ideas on affordable gifts that don’t seem cheap? — Insufficient In-Law
Dear Insufficient: Don’t sell yourself short. Often the inexpensive but heartfelt gifts are the ones most cherished. Pinterest is full of great crafting ideas to this end. Or if you’re at all handy in the kitchen, try making her favorite baked good. Even just a card with a nice handwritten note goes a long way. It really is the thought that counts, and you’ve been giving this situation plenty of it.