From the way people walk to the way people talk, it’s no secret that Chicagoans have a certain way of going somewhere or saying something – and a now-viral Reddit thread has helped highlight some of the idiosyncrasies that the people of Windy City share.
The thread, posted to the Chicago-based r/chicago subreddit, titled “What habits/mannerisms have you picked up since living in Chicago?” generated more than 650 comments, on everything from food, to brisk walking, to being the first to call “dibs” on a street parking spot when it snows.
“So somewhat unique to Chicago, the ‘dibs’ on street parking,” one comment read. “It’s not legal in any form, but it’s been a thing here for at least 50 years. The belief is that if you’ve dug up a parking space on the street, you can reserve it with, well, a variety of medium and physical items of your choice.”
As for these physical objects, one post simply reads “Chair in the street”, to which another commenter replies, “these are dibs chairs, you don’t disturb them during a snowstorm”.
According to one commenter, there’s an entire blog devoted to documenting the concept of ‘Dibs’, which has an archive of photos of personal items Chicago residents have left in parking lots in an attempt to reserve them, from chairs to toys. for children.
Overall, many reviewers took pride in what sets Chicago apart from other major American cities, retaining the city’s unique dialect, cuisine, and culture.
Here’s a look at some of the most common ways the wire calls.
“We’re nice in the Midwest,” writes one commenter, “which can be passive aggressive, but generally we’re nice. I think the fact that it’s so brutally cold and hot/wet gives us a collective enemy that we gather.”
Similarly, another commenter spoke of the laid-back friendliness seen among Chicagoans compared to other parts of the country.
“I lived here for 10 years, moved for 2 years and just came back. The weirdest habit I’ve picked up while living here is the general expectation that people around me are competent and polished.
Friends living in other parts of the country shattered that expectation. Thank you for being generally knowledgeable and polite,” the commenter said.
Another commenter agreed, saying the approach in interacting with Chicagoans still feels genuine, even if they’re not in the best mood.
“I know people aren’t nice to me. Either they’re really nice or they won’t hide that they’re in a bad mood or they don’t want to be friendly, just polite haha. the fake kindness that getting nasty after the slightest negative thing has happened is common in other parts of the country and I can’t stand it,” the comment read.
While the American South has a reputation for hospitality, another reviewer pointed out that Chicago hospitality is alive and well.
“Growing up down south we used to joke if someone took you out to dinner they had to do it 3 times before you knew they meant it… here they just mean it,” said a comment.
Part of that hospitality is the prevalence of fried chicken, Italian beef, and mostaccioli for large gatherings, which many reviewers were unaware were primarily unique to Chicago.
“I get a little sad/depressed when I go to an event that’s not in Chicago (wedding, graduation, get-together, etc.) and there’s no Italian beef, fried chicken, and of mostaccoli. I was an adult before realizing it was mostly The Chicago thing,” one comment read.
Other commentators chimed in on the dish, with one saying “Mostaccioli doesn’t even exist outside of here. It’s something that confused me so much when I left. I just have to go with penne.”
However, others said several other Midwestern spots claim mostaccioli, including Detroit and St. Louis.
The bustle of block-to-block walking in Chicago is also not lost on residents, including some who may not have been aware of how fast they walk now.
“I walk so fast now lol never thought about that before,” the comment read, with a response echoing the sentiment.
“My mum came to visit me a few weeks ago and it pissed me off at how slow she was walking, especially in a crowded area.”
Other commentators spoke of the city’s linguistic quirks, vowing to forgo tennis shoes and trainers in favor of athletic shoes, admitting that “ope” has found its way into their vocabulary, and proudly knowing how to pronounce paczki.
One commentator offered a summary of beliefs and behaviors common to Chicagoans throughout their lives:
- No yeah means yes, and yes no means no. I didn’t know that was apparently a thing to say in Chicago
- If you say “welcome” to any gathering, everyone will immediately understand that it’s time to start leaving.
- Any strange weather change can be explained by saying “Lake effect, am I right?”
- To a Chicagoan, anything south of Kankakee is “southern Illinois,” even though that’s geographically incorrect.
- El means metro and train means commuter train
- As soon as you live within the city limits, you feel an irresistible urge to correct people from Westmont or Des Plaines who say they are “from Chicago”.
In a language that all Chicagoans understand, one commentator simply said:
“7-7-3, 2-0-2,” referencing Luna’s signature jingle that has been a staple of the Chicago-area airwaves for decades.