The Window Washer
by Gerald E. Greene
“So what do you do?” she asked.
The crowded bar kept pressing us together. She was cute—brunette, my height, wearing a blue shirt with blue shorts and blue sandals.
It was about 5:30 in the afternoon, and the heat index stood about 130 as I swilled a cold beer at the end of a long day.
I wasn’t there to make friends, but she seemed curious.
Should I tell her, or change the subject? I wondered.
People either ignore me or they look upon me with disdain when they learn I’m a window washer. I hear comments like:
“Who would risk their lives on those flimsy scaffolds?”
“What fools. People who cling to the sides of tall buildings, like monkeys.”
I could write a book about the insults, but over time one learns to ignore the jabs and derogatory remarks. I guess I’m hardened to them, but the resentment never goes away.
To some extent there’s danger involved in what I do. At least once a year I have a close call where death stares me in the face, and it isn’t fun. The last incident was not the scaffold but one of the round eyelets embedded into the masonry of an old building. I was on the 8th floor, standing on a window ledge. Having just finished one window I moved laterally to the next. I unhooked my safety harness from the left side, and leaned to my right and hooked it onto the left side of the next window. I then moved both feet to the new window ledge and was about to unhook from the old window eyelet when I noticed the new eyelet was loose.
I placed a hand onto it and it fell with hardly any effort. If I had unhooked from the other window and a gust of wind had caused me to lose my balance at the same time, I would have fallen. I’ve learned to test equipment before trusting it.
There are hidden benefits to my profession and I’m reluctant to tell you about them.
I see things that shouldn’t be seen. Not all tall buildings are offices. Some are condos and apartments where tenants don’t expect or don’t care if they’re seen in the buff. But the one thing I like the most is working on office buildings because of the personal benefits.
I always wear my earbuds and people assume I’m listening to music, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Hanging from my neck is a Harmonic Valley Troubadour Receiver which is a fancy name for a microphone that can listen through windows.
I listen for comments relating to sales levels and economic conditions and then I do research on the firms to decide if I should buy or short their stock. Once a month I wash the windows of many firms and about once a month I learn one thing. And one is all I need.
Just last month I discovered one of my firms lost a very large client and were about to close a manufacturing plant in the Midwest. That evening I shorted their stock and waited.
Within two weeks, I made 50k profit on that deal alone.
Last weekend as I was leaving the country club lounge after playing eighteen holes of golf, I overheard a friend comment to a stranger, “You should be so lucky. He’s the best investor I’ve ever seen and you would kill to have his record, and he’s just a blue-collar guy.”
So I turned to the woman in blue at the bar who was waiting for my answer and said, “I’m a window washer.”
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Gerald E. Greene
Gerald E. Greene writes from Dayton, Ohio. He is published in Insight Magazine and Guide Magazine. He also wrote Turning Losing Forex Trades Into Winners published by John Wiley & sons, 2008. His Facebook blog is called “Short Stories Rated G.”