TERI GILBERT of Northeast Philadelphia is openly defying the Police Department's "no savesies" ban on reserving shoveled-out parking spots in the wake of the weekend blizzard.
Gilbert is six months pregnant, so her husband, Mike, who is undergoing radiation treatment for Stage 4 metastatic throat and neck cancer, shoveled out a space in front of their Rhawnhurst house while son Matthew, 23 months, watched from an upstairs window.
Then Teri taped a handwritten savesies sign to an orange cone that reads:
"This spot was shoveled by a cancer patient for himself and his pregnant wife. Kindly dig out your own spot! Thank you!!"
Gilbert said her family's personal situation takes precedence over the police telling people to call 9-1-1 if they see saved parking spots.
So far, Gilbert said, neighbors have respected her saved space on Frontenac Street near Tolbut.
"Mike had two major cancer surgeries in December," she said. "There's no way he's going to do radiation five times a week and shovel out another spot.
"He's weak," she said. "He's hurting. He was out there in the freezing cold for hours doing backbreaking labor. I see people driving around, stalking empty spaces. They have to keep circling."
If anyone removes her warning sign and parks in the spot, Gilbert warned, "hell hath no fury like a six-month-pregnant woman scorned."
Gilbert said she has never used a savesies cone before but feels that she and her family, who have raised $15,000 on gofundme.com toward Mike's $20,000 in medical expenses, have extenuating circumstances that should exempt them from the police "no-savesies" campaign.
The cops are aggressively promoting their no-savesies enforcement on Facebook and Twitter in an effort to prevent the violence that has sometimes broken out over saved parking-spot disputes in the past.
Donny Smith, a lifelong Northeast Philadelphian who is president of the Mayfair Civic Association, said he respects the enforcement effort.
"As far as 'savesies' go, I think things may have shifted a bit," he said. "There is either a new level of respect, or a new level of fear.
"I think people now know that if they pull into a shoveled-out spot, they stand an inherent risk of coming back to a potentially damaged vehicle."
For years, Smith said, he's heard stories about people breaking windows or flattening tires on cars parked in saved spots.
"I'm not saying that these actions are justified," he said, "but if you pull into a spot that someone spent hours clearing, your gut tells you that you are probably going to upset someone and run the risk of retaliation.
"In my opinion, it's just not worth it, and I would never do it," he said.
From North to South Philadelphia, shovel-weary residents on blizzard-battered streets are using the time-honored orange cones, folding chairs, and garbage cans to save their spots.
"It's been an unwritten law," said Stephen Flemming, a public school teacher from Southwest Philadelphia. "If you take a [saved] parking spot, you run the risk of causing an argument, a fight, or worse."
Jennifer Williams, a Mount Airy homeowner, said: "How is it that I spend all this time shoveling out my car in front of my house, yet I can't save my spot? Why am I paying property taxes again?"
Charelle Wilson from Mantua said: "I think people who live on the block should be allowed to keep their spots. People around here fear being fined if they hold their spots. I had to loan my car to someone so he wouldn't get fined for holding his spot."
As of late Tuesday, police reported no fights over saved parking spots.
- Staff writer Ashley Caldwell contributed to this report.