Dibs is somewhat a city thing, in that I think it happens in most major cities where snow also happens, though it goes by different names depending on region.
So, you live on a street with street parking only, and it snows, and you dig your car out to go to the grocery store. You spend half an hour digging snow, get your car clear, pull away…and leave a perfectly shoveled empty parking space for someone else to take.
But you put all that effort into shoveling, and it’s super uncool to come back and find nowhere to park, so after you pull out, you go back to your house and grab a couple of cheap/broken chairs, some empty coolers, some stolen traffic cones — a few things that you can set up in the parking space to keep others from parking there. Usually it’s chairs, known as Dibs Chairs. The Dibs Chairs say, I shoveled this out, I’m coming back for this spot, it’s my spot.
It is a GROSS breach of manners to move someone’s Dibs Chairs, and can often result in the returning Dibser finding your car and either keying it or reburying it in snow.
At least in Chicago, every year the media try to whip up controversy about whether or not Dibs is a good thing, but I’ve yet to speak to someone who wants to argue against it. It’s a force of nature, really, but aside from that it just seems like the most sensible way to avoid conflict and ensure that someone already tired from shoveling out their spot doesn’t have to drive around looking for a parking space.
That said, there are some people who get rather more defensive of the Dibs Chair than they really need to. The levels of rage that some people reach over Dibs reminds us that midwesterners are generally quiet and docile and that probably means they’re planning something.