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She Took My Shoveled Space

by Officer David Hartman | Feb 14, 2013 2:02 pm

(18) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Opinion, Westville, Winter Storm Nemo

Nemo brought out the best in me—until I came home at 3 a.m. to find another car in the spot I spent four hours shoveling.

In communities throughout New Haven, neighbors have been out in force being, well, neighborly since the historic snowstorm that buried the city last weekend. Those who could took care of those who couldn’t. Folks were introducing themselves to people who’d lived a house or two away for years.

“I live in the yellow house over there,” said a woman who’d approached me about borrowing my shovel. With the assistance of others, we got her walkway shoveled. A few minutes later, she brought us bagels.

We’ve all seen flocks of birds that seem to turn en masse simultaneously. All of them. In unison. As soon as the owner of a buried car plunged his or her shovel into the tremendous pile of snow, the same fascinating phenomenon would occur. The shovel-wielding flock would fly right over to help, as if some electromagnetic communication or even “thought transference” had been involved.

I was up a bit earlier than most last Saturday morning. The man who has the snow removal contract for my condominium complex hadn’t touched it. As it turned out, we wouldn’t see him for days.

My neighbor Mike and I had about an hour’s worth of shoveling before we could even get to our cars. As the morning went on, others emerged and with looks of disbelief, dug in as well.

I think awesomeness of the storm kept me distracted enough to prevent me from becoming pissed off at having to spend all morning shoveling. Four hours later, my back was aching, but I’d cleared a walking path around my SUV. I was physically drained but somehow satisfied.

My friend’s brood of little ones were busy building an igloo, and neighborhood dogs were having the time of their life. My spirits were up. I showered and helped a few others on the block before escaping to work behind a monstrous payloader.

Before leaving, I joked with Mike about what we’d do if someone parked in the spaces we’d struggled for hours to clear.

“They’d better not,” Mike said.

“No one could be that cruel,” said Karen.

Chachi piped up, “It’s an unwritten law. You shovel it – you own it”.

I spent 17 hours at work, some of them dry in an underground Emergency Operations Center, but mostly, I was driving officers to calls around New Haven. (The NHPD has very few 4WD vehicles, so officers were trudging through waist deep snow for blocks to help people). It was an
exhausting day for me, and I can only imagine worse for the many officers, firefighters, EMTs, public works and parks department staffers who’d put in around the clock hours.

I was dreading Sunday, when I knew the hours would be as long, and this time with just a few hours of sleep in between.

Psychologically, snow may affect people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Studies have shown that during snowstorms people tend
to be affected by the darkness and can not produce enough serotonin to counteract the feelings of depression. Other studies discuss ions in the weather.  If there are positive ions in the atmosphere, people become cranky.

I was OK. Those studies didn’t apply to me.

That is until, at just before 3 a.m., I forged down my street and spotted some other car in the spot I’d cleared.

Nemo had brought out the best in me all day. In one moment, that would disappear.

I was boiling with anger as I tried to find a spot to park, finally settling for one blocks away. But instead of just cursing the situation in my mind, I sank to a deplorable low. I went inside and got on the computer. In the largest font size I could find, I wrote a profane two-word greeting to the car’s owner, followed by a one-sentence, slightly less profane explanation. With scotch tape in hand, I returned to the car and posted my feelings on the windows.

The next day, the car was gone, and I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was bothered all day by what I’d done.

When I returned home, there was a note left for me. It was stern but kind. The woman who wrote it (Ann) offered to give me four hours of her time if I’d accept her help, while scolding me for the use of profanity.

Ann, I can’t undo what I’ve done, and apologize sincerely for leaving the note. The good deeds done by my neighbors all day were punctuated by my bad deed, and I’m sick over it. That’s not me.

I’ve kept your note as a reminder and am a better person for having it.

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posted by: William Kurtz on February 13, 2013  4:36pm

Well, Officer, your frustration is certainly understandable but I, for one, admire your willingness to publicly accept responsibility and express regret over whatever role you played in escalating the disagreement. It sounds like you and your neighbor are both people of good conscience. I’m glad it worked out.

posted by: Win Davis on February 13, 2013  4:57pm

Ann, I hope you can forgive Hartman and thanks for raising the level of civil dialogue with your reply to his note.  Its something we could all benefit from doing.

I saw the note in the neighborhood on Sunday and I never expected to know anything more about it.  Officer Hartman is a very dedicated police officer and this story for me, is a reminder that even good people are capable of making a bad call every now and again but the best people are those with the decency to admit wrong doing and apologize.

Thanks for the story.

posted by: ElmJackCity on February 13, 2013  5:30pm

Awww Dave….I’m touched. The realist side of me says, if you didn’t shovel it don’t park there.  Very kind of you good sir.

posted by: streever on February 13, 2013  5:31pm

Wow! Very commendable, Officer Hartman. I appreciate you sharing this story and stepping up. We all slip. You did a lot of good this weekend, and kudos to you for acknowledging and mending the bad as well.

posted by: CITMom on February 13, 2013  6:11pm

Kudos to Officer Hartman.  You are a gem.  I wish you were on the street more, because you are one excellent CIT officer.
 
P.S. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but you made it better in the long run.

posted by: AuntieAndrea on February 13, 2013  6:50pm

Still one of the City’s Finest! thanks for all your hard work all the rest of the days and nights!!!!!

posted by: AuntieAndrea on February 13, 2013  6:55pm

Still one of the City’s Finest!

posted by: Wildwest on February 13, 2013  8:51pm

No note for me, I would have shoveled the car in for the long night even if it took an hour.

posted by: voltairesmistress on February 14, 2013  12:43am

Tough as it may be to accept after all that shoveling, no street parking space belongs to anyone.

posted by: robn on February 14, 2013  7:05am

Its not legal to claim a space but its morally correct. I think New Haven could improve upon Philly style (staking claim on a shoveled space with a chair or garbage bin) if claimants would simply leave a sign saying when they’ll be back. That way the space can be used by someone in the interim. Would be a good honor system. BTW, in Philly you don’t get a stern note for taking a shoveled space, you get your car keyed.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 14, 2013  8:50am

In no way shape or form is it ok to take a spot that someone shoveled out. I think it is selfish to do so and disrespectful, it is a me me thing. I have heard “the street does not belong to you” Well it does not. But if you send 3 or 4 hours shoveling a spot out and some lazyass takes it I call them a freeloader in ever scene of the term. I do in a scene own the spot I worked 4 hours for and someone who did no work takes it?? How is that human?
I got home monday night and a guy was in my spot I asked people next door if I could use theres till that person got home..when the space grabber came to get his car I asked him why he said “it is the street I can park where I want” He did not live on my street not sure where he came from. And then…then he said…. as I got in my car to move it…you can not take this space someone else is coming to park here WHAT!!! I just told you I shoveled it?? The men next door came out when they heard and he drove away mad! Was I wrong?? HELL NO!!
I do commend David only because the note was swear words and he did fix it. But what I do not think he had any reason not to be angry.

Space Grabbers…..justify it how ever you want…it is lazy and rude to take a spot that someone else broke their back for. If you did not shovel out and or can not at least ask people for help.

posted by: Threefifths on February 14, 2013  11:17am

Were is it written into the law that digging your car out now implies that you’re entitled to that parking spot.Show me,Are you all saying that you are entitled like akin to dogs urinating on fire hydrants to mark their territory.The streets that you park on belong to all the people.

posted by: robn on February 14, 2013 7:05am

Its not legal to claim a space but its morally correct.

My morals might not match with yours.So what is your point.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 14, 2013  12:30pm

3/5th’s

When I was a child my parents taught me something called common courtesy. A respect for others. Many people did not get that lesson..but they are the ones who first complain when someone parks in a spot they shovel…it is call respect of others that is all.

Your name in not on or in the wallet,  you dropped on the ground as you turn around you see me picking it up….should my response be but your name is not on it?

This common courtesy is what we as a people are losing more and more and I find it to be part of a larger social disorder. So you tell your kid…it is ok to take that space THEY do not own it…and the lession that child learn from that simple greed is???

posted by: robn on February 14, 2013  12:32pm

3/5

My point is that if somebody spends 4-5 backbreaking hours clearing a space, and somebody else decides to park in that space; that somebody else is a jerk.

posted by: Threefifths on February 14, 2013  4:59pm

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 14, 2013 12:30pm

3/5th’s

When I was a child my parents taught me something called common courtesy. A respect for others. Many people did not get that lesson..but they are the ones who first complain when someone parks in a spot they shovel…it is call respect of others that is all.

Courtesty has nothing to do with this topic.The point is what makes the space your personal space because you shovel the spot.Officer David Hartman even knows this.

Your name in not on or in the wallet,  you dropped on the ground as you turn around you see me picking it up….should my response be but your name is not on it?

If I am having a party on Saturday and on Friday night and I shovel out fifty spaces up and down the street because I need parking, does that make those spaces mine?Easy fix for this would be for the city to require people park on different sides of the street 2 days after a snow storm so that the plows can simply push the snow out of the way. For example, park on odd side before and during storm. Plow comes by and cleans up even side. Everyone moves to even side. Plow comes the next day and clears the odd side; everyone moves back to the odd side.

posted by: Threefifths on February 14, 2013  5:00pm

posted by: robn on February 14, 2013 12:32pm

3/5

My point is that if somebody spends 4-5 backbreaking hours clearing a space, and somebody else decides to park in that space; that somebody else is a jerk.


If I am having a party on Saturday and on Friday night and I shovel out fifty spaces up and down the street because I need parking, does that make those spaces mine?Easy fix for this would be for the city to require people park on different sides of the street 2 days after a snow storm so that the plows can simply push the snow out of the way. For example, park on odd side before and during storm. Plow comes by and cleans up even side. Everyone moves to even side. Plow comes the next day and clears the odd side; everyone moves back to the odd side.

posted by: robn on February 14, 2013  5:38pm

3/5,

The problem with your hypothetical is that it’s never happened. Conversely, many many individuals shoveling out their individual cars occurs every snowfall. I can’t argue with you that there’s any legal premise for claiming a space, because there isn’t. However, I stand by my comment that its morally sound for shovellers to expect their hard work to be respected by their neighbors.

I couldn’t agree with you more that there should a system in place for parking and plowing. I’ve always through it would make sense and be memorable for everyone to require odd parking on odd snow days and vice versa.

posted by: Nashstreeter on February 15, 2013  11:23pm

Even tho I would hate to be on the wrong end of it, I like the Philly approach—park here and your car will be keyed! But things are not always so simple. Some people have to shovel out to go far away, never to return till summer or something; they can’t all tell the other people on the block that their spot is now open to everybody (as my neighbor did on Saturday).

Others are driven to desperation when the City says they have to move to the other side of the street. The City certainly sounds like they are ready to enforce that rule, but they are not ready to honor their promise to plow the vacated side. Never once in my 50 years of living in New Haven has the City EVER plowed the vacated side.

Now they want us to vacate one side for 3 days! Tonight (Friday) will be the third night of this rule—the first 2 nights with no plowing. I’m betting the street will be its old un-plowed self when I wake up in the morning. But boy would I be happy to be wrong.

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