Moving to Chattanooga was the best decision I ever made. When I describe “Chatta-living” to my friends in flagship cities like Brooklyn, Seattle and San Francisco, it sounds like an mini-urban utopia with nothing but farm-to-table restaurants, staggeringly low home prices, and no visible poverty. But maybe the most impressive aspect of living in Chattanooga is the fact that I am allowed to park on the sidewalks whenever I want to.
One thing I learned from the locals here in Chattanooga is that they don’t like to walk. Despite all the lip service they pay to walkability and electric bikes and green economy buzz words, Chattanoogans hate walking. In real cities, finding a parking spot within a couple blocks of your destination is a godsend. In Chattanooga, it’s wholly unacceptable. So if you can’t find a parking space directly in front of your favorite boujee coffee shop or local juicery, you’re free to park right in the middle of the sidewalk.
Do people get mad? Probably. But are they going to do anything? Don’t be silly. Driving in the South is like cage-fighting with the Amish. You can pretty much do whatever you want, and and they’ll just smile and wave at you. Granted, they’ll smile and wave at you in a transparently passive-aggressive way meant to hint at the rage bubbling beneath the polite Southern veneer. But big deal. It’s an insignificant price to pay for the right to basically do whatever I want… like parking on the sidewalk, or parking in the middle of an intersection, or even walking right into oncoming traffic with the expectation that everyone will slam on their breaks so they can smile and wave at me!
My friends in real cities can’t believe this. I used to live in Brooklyn, and trust me, there is no way that I could simply drive onto the sidewalk in front of my favorite coffee shop, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and go inside for a half hour to savor a latte with a little heart drawn in the foam while pedestrians stream around my Volvo. But that’s the reality every day here in Chattanooga!
I know I may be living in a small, rather undistinguished city in the South, but moments like that make me feel like royalty. In fact, I enjoy parking on the sidewalks so much that even when there are abundant parking spaces available, I still choose to park right in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing parents with strollers and people in wheelchairs to weave in and out of the street as they politely wave and smile at me in the window. Don’t mind me! I’m just living my #bestlife!