Phil Friedman en Professions, Workers, Careers, beBee in English, Social Media Writer/Editor | Marketer | Ghost Writer | Marine Industry and Small-Business Consultant • Port Royal Group 6/11/2016 · 5 min de lectura · 3,7K

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

Two Pizzas and a Shovel


The more things change, the more they remain the same...

At least, that's the way it is in Chicago.

I was born, raised, and lived there until I was an adult. Right in the inner city. First on the West Side near Roosevelt Road and Kedzie Avenue. Then on the South Side in Hyde Park and South Shore. And finally in Rogers Park on the North Side.

I left shortly after I graduated college, when I headed to graduate school. And although I still visited family there, I hadn't returned to live. 

Until the beginning of 2015. When I commenced work on a longer-term consulting contract to reorganize and expand the service operations of a Chicago boat yard.

Because the contract was for a year, I sublet one floor of a two-floor renovated condo in Avondale, a Chicago neighborhood that was historically Polish working class. Duplexes, triplexes, and some small, multi-unit apartment buildings, most of which had been converted to condos. All nicely kept and good value when compared to the outrageously expensive yuppified areas of Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Bucktown.

The only problem was parking. For most of it was on the street --- and for overnight, by permit only.

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

About every other week, I flew back to Florida to spend the weekend with my family. And then back to Chicago to fulfill the terms of my contract.

One time in February, I think it was, I returned on a flight that arrived during the midst of a major snowstorm. Turned out, it was a very good thing I had grown up in Chicago. This is why:

In Chicago, when there is a major snowstorm, the snowplows used to keep the streets clear do so by pushing all of the snow from the middle of a street to the curbs each side. Which usually makes it impossible to park a car there, without first digging a parking space out of the man-made drifts. Which is what people do in neighborhoods like Avondale.

However, what I knew because I had grown up in Chicago was that, once someone had dug out a space in which to park his or her car, he or she then staked a claim to that space for the duration by placing a chair or chairs in that space.

And woe be to him or her who chooses to ignore a parking space squatter's rights by usurping a space that someone else has created and claimed during the aftermath of a major snowstorm...

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

If you ignore such a squatter's claim, you might return in the morning to find your car "keyed". Or one of more of your tires flattened. Or worse, get yelled at, or maybe even punched out. Dug out parking spaces following a storm are a serious matter in Chicago.

Anyway, there I was in February, arriving at Midway Airport at the tail end of a major snowfall. I was tired. And by the time I had picked up my rental car and gotten on the road, it was after 6:00 pm.

All I wanted was to go to my rented apartment, eat something, and go to bed. But I knew I couldn't do that. Because I knew I would not find an open parking space in my neighborhood --- unless I could dig one out for myself.

Consequently, I stopped en route at a Home Depot store to buy a shovel. Not surprisingly, they were out of proper snow shovels, and I had to settle for a steel bladed spade with a 60" handle. Not ideal, but I guessed I could manage nevertheless. And so bought the spade and headed to my home away from home.

Fortunately, when I arrived, then well after dark, there was an unshoveled, potential space right out in front of my building. The problem was that there was no place to park while I dug out that space.

I might otherwise have parked temporarily, although illegally in a no-parking zone at a nearby corner, but such spaces had been piled up especially high with snow.

Or I might have simply double-parked while I dug out a space. Except that the drifts now piled up at the curbs each side of the street had narrowed the roadway to a single lane, making double parking impossible.

The problem was made worse by the fact that I didn't have a chair to mark squatter's rights to a space, and so could not park even temporarily very far away, or I would run the risk that by the time I got back to park in it, somebody else might have taken it.

After circling several blocks several times looking for an opportunity to carve out a parking space for my rental car, I said screw it, and simply stopped in front of my apartment building in the middle of the street and turned on my warning flashers.

I figured it would take me only about twenty minutes to dig out a space.  And that it was a short block, so people coming down the street or turning onto the street would see the flashers and figure out to take another route.

Which all worked well for about the first ten minutes. Until a pizza delivery guy pulled up right behind my car and began honking his horn...

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

I ignore him and keep shoveling. Being half-finished, there is no way I am going to stop shoveling or drive away from my half-dugout parking space.

After several honks, he gets out of his vehicle and approaches me, shouting aggressively to get the hell out of the way.

I ask him where he thinks I can go and explain I have less than ten minutes of work left --- at which point, I will be happy to park my car and let him pass. Or he can back down the street a quarter block to the corner and take the cross street around.

He says that isn't good enough, that he has two pizzas to deliver which are getting cold, and his boss will be pissed at him.

To which, being trained in interest-based negotiating, I offer to buy the two pizzas from him at whatever the bill says, and throw in a tip to boot. If he will just wait calmly for a few more minutes. All the while, I keep shoveling.

He says no deal. That he is going to call the police and have me arrested for blocking traffic.

I say go ahead, call the police. All the while, I keep shoveling --- figuring that, if I can keep him talking long enough, the problem will resolve itself as soon as I finish and can park the car.

He pulls out his cell phone, calls the police, talks for a minute, and then holds out his phone to me and says the desk sergeant wants to speak to me.

By now it's well after 9:00, I'm really cold, my feet are wet through my shoes, and my toes are numb. I am also myself getting really pissed about his harassment.

So while I kept shoveling, I say loud enough for the desk sergeant to hear, "If the police want to talk to me, they can come out here and arrest me. But tell 'em to bring shovels and a tow truck, because my car is stuck."

And I keep shoveling.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the pizza delivery guy talking again to the cop at the other end, and I hear him say, "Yea, the old guy says he'll be done in ten minutes, yea, yea, okay, but this is shit." Then he hangs up, more pissed off than before.

I keep shoveling, thinking, "Old guy? OLD guy? F@#k you, kid."

He says, "I've had enough of this; I'm just going to punch your face in."

To which I reply, "Better think about it first. You have two pizzas. I have a five-foot steel-bladed shovel. How do you think that's going to work out for you?"

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

Well, he huffed and he puffed, and... he stomped back to his truck.

Just about then, I finished digging out enough of the space to enable me to move my car off to the side, so he could pass.

Which he did, flipping me the bird, and laying on his horn, as he drove by. Case closed.

As is usual with my Chicago Stories, I am not sure whether there is a moral to the tale. Or even if there is, what it might be.

Perhaps, in this case, that talking long enough about a problem gives it time to resolve itself. Or not. --- Phil Friedman

Author's Notes:   If you found this post interesting and worthwhile, and would like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. Better yet, elect there to follow my blog by email. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.

Should you be curious about some of my previous Chicago Stories, you're invited to take a look at the following:

"Wake Up Little Susie"

"Vending Machines Are People Too"

As well, feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other articles — whether on beBee, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, provided only that you credit me properly as the author, and include a live link to my original post.

About me, Phil FriedmanWith 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation.

In a previous life, I was formally trained as an academic philosopher and taught logic and philosophy at university.

The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve their thought and writing, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal with disagreement.

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult email: I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

Two Pizzas and a Shovel

Phil Friedman 12/12/2017 · #50

#49 Thanks, @Wayne Yoshida, for the kind words. It's strange that you can't see comments 1-40 because I can.I have no idea why, but that seems to happen every so often. Try again is a bit and see if the comments reappear -- that is if you care to explore the issue. Best. Phil

Wayne Yoshida 11/12/2017 · #49

Another great wintertime story.

BTW, what happened to comments 1 thru 40?

+1 +1
Phil Friedman 1/2/2017 · #48

#47 Yep, Todd. Now you know why I can't take complaints about "aggressive" behavior on social media too seriously. Cheers!

+3 +3
Todd Jones 1/2/2017 · #47

Utility and self defense...sounds like two great reasons to own a metal shovel, Phil. Perhaps you could sell this to Union Fork and Hoe as a new marketing strategy!

+2 +2
Aurorasa Sima 8/11/2016 · #46

Hahahaha .... and we all know from your video that your wife owns a taser and is not afraid to use it. Also safer for the delivery guy (and the guy with the shovel)

Yummy. I also often make my own pizza (beside dough) .. On anything tomato sauce I like basil and oregano.

Yeah, the quality of the cheese makes half of the pizza.

When I still ate meat:
- Ground beef, onions, jalapenos and corn

Now MOST favorite
- No tomato sauce but: Garlic, serrano pepper, feta, black olives, grilled red pepper

I like my pizza to remind me that I am still alive. Serrano pepper does that.

+4 +4
Phil Friedman 8/11/2016 · #45

#44 Yes re anchovies, Aurorasa. I make pizza at home for my family. I use Boboli pre-baked pizza crusts, add my own sauce (spaghetti sauce with a couple of pinches of sugar to kill the acidic after taste) and the best mozzarella cheese I can find. Piles of it. Add chopped onions, and topped cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with a mixture of Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven at 450 degrees F. Better than just about anything you can get in a restaurant, with not much more effort that baking a frozen pre-made. The piece de resistance are the addition of flat anchovy fillets in olive oil.

But my wife and daughters won't let me put them on until after the pizza is baked. And even then they make me keep the anchovies in a glass container, and add them only to MY pizza as I eat it piece by piece. Not only that, but they make me sit at the den coffee table, while they sit at the country kitchen breakfast counter. Living in a household full of women is not easy.

+4 +4
Aurorasa Sima 8/11/2016 · #44

#38 Good trick to keep Pizza safe. The taste and smell sticks, even if you remove the anchovies.

I´d love to hear more stories about your teenage years, I believe it was an interesting time in a quite unique place.

Growing up in Germany is what I love about Germany so much: Normal, liberal, boring and safe. Nothing much to talk about.

+1 +1
Aurorasa Sima 8/11/2016 · #43

#39 I´ll throw in some history (besides old Egypt it´s the only bit of history I know. Pizza and Pyramids, maybe a bit Indians)

Etruscans (800 - 100 before Christ (hope that translates) have known something very similar to Pizza. It can´t be tracked down to a single region.

Assyrians were baking Lahmacun as early as 2000 before Christ.

The existence of the first Italian style pizza is estimated to be since the middle of the 18th century.

To my knowledge, the dough was medium thick (more thin than thick) and as you said pizza was a poor man´s food and they threw on top of it leftovers.

Chicago, if you say the Italian community I trust you, seems to be the inventor of the Deep Dish.

+3 +3