Friday, May 25, 2007

Window Cleaning With George - Episode One

I missed posting on Wednesday because I was helping my friend George do a major window cleaning job. Bobcat built a new facility in Stoney Creek and George got the contract to do the post-construction cleaning. Post-construction window cleaning is the hardest and most time consuming kind of window job, because the windows are covered in spatters of cement, mortar, drywall mud, paint etc. You have to literally scrape the windows inch by inch with a razor blade and then wash them at least twice to get them clean. You also have to detail the window frames, which are usually covered in glue and caulking as well.

Why would anyone ever want to do a post-construction initial window cleaning job? Because you charge at least three times the normal rate to do it. Moolah!

I started working with George years ago because he wanted to go on vacation and didn't have anyone to run the business for him. His son had gotten married and moved away and couldn't help him any more. So I volunteered. I spent a month learning the basics and then George took off to England for a month, his first vacation in a long time. He left me a detailed list of which jobs to do on which days, along with billing and collection paperwork. He left nothing to chance, every step was laid out for me. As Scotty said in Star Trek III, "A Chimpanzee and two trainees could run her."

Everything was fine until Wednesday. On the list was "Mohawk Ford - Showroom Outside" followed by the address. Clear enough. The showroom at Mohawk Ford is two stories high. Twenty feet of plate glass surrounds three sides of the showroom. There is a bottom section of glass and a top section of glass. George and I hadn't done the top section of glass when we were together and the list didn't specify so I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to do it or not. I brilliantly decided that it would be better to err on the side of caution and go ahead and do the top section.

My regular readers and friends will know that I am not a ladder person. I have since learned how to use ladders safely, but back then I had no idea what I was doing. The problem was this: How to reach the upper plates of glass? There were cars parked three feet away from the showroom so using a full-sized ladder was out because the cars made the angle bad. The stepladder I had was too short. I decided to use the 15-foot aluminum ladder.

This was a tremendous mistake. The only way I could get close enough to reach the upper plates was to gently rest the top of the ladder against the glass. It was a nightmare. I had to reach way off the ladder and pray the whole time that the glass wouldn't break. It was a vastly stupid thing to do. But I got it done, somehow.

Afterwards I asked George's daughter to ask him about it when he called her form England. She relayed the message, "Don't do the upper glass!" I was relieved. When George got back and found out what I'd done he was shocked. To this day he still shudders in horror when he remembers it.

Last year, George wanted a Wednesday off so he asked me to do his rounds. On the list was "Mohawk Ford - Showroom Outside". Next to the line was a small piece of folded paper taped to the page that said, "Open this." It folded out into a very long banner that read, in big bold letters, "DO THE LOWER GLASS ONLY. DO NOT DO THE UPPER GLASS."

That George, what a kidder.
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1 comment:

Ruby said...

If he knows you well he might have been afraid that the skidding of the ladder down the window would strike sparks as the ladder hit metal parts. This would result in a fire for which you are so well known.