Highrise window cleaners are a peculiar bunch. They strike that unique balance between summertime ubiquity and occasionally scaring you half to death as you’re dancing in your birthday suit in front of your window.
Steve Warner is a gregarious 25-year veteran of the biz and the owner of Sky Pro, a full-service building maintenance company. He is also the man who will suspend me like a marionette while I pray to maintain control of my bowels.
“Listen, I’m just happy I didn’t go with a company named SkyFall,” I explain.
Warner employs a staff of men and women - and possibly hybrid squeegee-kids - who seek physical exertion and peacefulness in a career. His former employee roster even includes the fellows in Darkest Days, who toured with Nickleback. (Isn’t everyone’s darkest days listening to Nickleback?)
Washing one unit’s windows can take minutes - a bonus for residents but a nightmare for exhibitionists who might have a propensity to repeat “you missed a spot.”
Warner shares industry yarns involving nudity, and one story about a window cleaner who once hopped onto a balcony to steal a marijuana plant before descending down the building. Good luck reporting that one to the cops.
I will learn to master a highrise descent and inspect the brick, but not before watching a video on “fall arrest” training, a method for preventing hazards and accidents on the work site.
I’m confused by the name, mainly because if I do plummet, I would imagine the police officer would have a tough time cuffing all 10 pieces of my body together.
So on a foggy Tuesday, I harness up, secure my “rope grab” to a safety line, and saunter towards the edge of the building.
“Any last wishes?” says Steve’s co-worker Len jokingly. “Huggies pull-ups!” I plead.
The first 60 seconds proves to be the most unnerving, as I sit back into the chair and push off the wall. My left hand operates the "life line” while my right grasps a line that controls my descent. When my arm is strained, I tie-off to a hook and dangle. The fog matches my pallor.
Len travels down beside me, swinging without a care in the world. I pause and hook off at least four times while Steve photographs my panic. Looking for distraction, I scan empty bedrooms but can’t see anything remotely scandalous. My feet finally hit the pavement and the second drop, my testicles, also complete the fall.
Steve was never worried all along. With a $5 million economical policy, we had enough liability coverage for me and half of Jennifer Lopez’s ass.
Today’s lesson learned? People who live in glass houses… should put some pants on.