A Chicago tradition escalated earlier this month when a man found his car window shattered by a “dibs” chair in Andersonville.
Brett Jackson, 35, had parked the car he shares with a friend a few hours earlier on a snowy West Carmen Avenue near his home, not far from North Broadway.
Just like in other neighborhoods, multiple snowfalls and below-zero temperatures meant limited parking spots, with many neighbors calling “dibs” on shoveled spots with chairs. Finding an unclaimed place to park the 2016 Honda Civic that Saturday, Feb. 6 was no small feat.
While parking, Jackson spotted a white chair a few feet ahead, but it was on the sidewalk, said Alec Patterson, the 24-year-old owner of the car who shares it with Jackson.
When Jackson returned from a walk later that night, he found the car’s rear window busted — the same white chair left balanced with one leg in the backseat among broken glass.
Shocked, Jackson called Patterson, who lives in South Loop, to tell him what happened and map out next steps.
“I actually kind of laughed,” Patterson said, recalling the moment Jackson called him with the news. “I thought it was kind of funny that someone went to that extreme to throw a chair into the back of my car.”
Patterson’s theory is that a neighbor had been using the chair to claim the spot they shoveled, didn’t put the chair back after leaving and Jackson unknowingly pulled in before they returned. It’s also possible that another person, not respecting “dibs,” moved the chair to park in the spot and then left, leaving it open when Jackson pulled in.
“I totally respect the game of ‘dibs,’ but I think it’s a little too far,” Patterson said. “Like, leave a note on my car, like, ‘Hey I dug this out,’ or ‘Can you please move your car? I spent time.’ There’s other appropriate ways to go about it. You never want to start a fight with fire, you always want to start it calmly.”
Jackson eventually called police to pass along what happened and a report was filed about midnight on Sunday, Chicago Police Department records show.
He and Patterson then decided to just leave the car as it was overnight and take care of it later.
In the ensuing days, before Jackson cleaned the glass from the backseat and had the window replaced, a passerby snapped a photo of the scene. The photo quickly garnered attention on social media, with users on multiple platforms calling it justice for “dibs” disrespect and others perceiving it as “dibs” gone too far.
Patterson said it wasn’t until someone sent him a link to a post in an Albany Park neighborhood Facebook Group that he realized the photo of his car was circulating. Reactions he described as aggressive were piling up everywhere from Subreddits to various Facebook Groups.
“Yup, it’s that serious. You basically said f---- me and the 1hr plus I was out there shoveling and you called me a goofy! And you know calling a Chicagoan a ‘goofy’ is fighting words, so it’s up there,” one user commented on a public Facebook share of the photo.
So, Patterson decided to speak up and post in a private Andersonville Facebook Group, bluffing about having footage of the incident in an attempt to inspire neighbors to send him any photos or video they might have from that night.
Patterson said he doesn’t want to get police involved or see whoever smashed his window jailed. He just wants them to fess up, pay him back and move on.
The window cost $390 to replace and water damage to the speakers from the snow will be even more costly to repair, he said.
Beyond his Facebook post, Patterson said he’s decided to not stress over what happened.
“I try not to waste my time on things that aren’t gonna be productive to my mental energy,” he said. “Especially during COVID. You only got so much mental energy right now.”