I spend a fair amount of time thinking while I’m washing windows and I often listen to audio books and podcasts while I’m slinging squeegees. And as window cleaning technology and business moves toward advances in efficiency like the water fed pole, the more I feel strongly connected to the old-fashioned craft of using simple hand tools to clean a window and clean it well. I feel somehow compelled to turn the window cleaning process into an act of Will, an alchemical undertaking and a mystical devotion.
In part I do this to keep the process as completely removed from the idea of “work” or “routine” as divinely possible. From a metaphysical standpoint, I’m sure a lot of guru wisdom shits could be devised around the benefits of saying a prayer for/to/with each window you wash. Seeing a customer’s reaction to her clean windows certainly suggests to me that some blessing has taken place. So I’m going to continue working on my window cleaning mantras and see how they affect the lives and realities of my fortunate clients. Basically, that’s a distraction to keep me awake at the wheel of my fancy janitor life.
Which brings to mind Barn the Spoon in his work shop window in Hackney hand carving spoons all day. He said in the below linked interview, “When I’ve made a good spoon I feel good within myself.” So I’m co-opting that for my work as a window cleaner. Hence the title.
At the end of the day, if I wanted my window washing “business” to really make more money and grow, I should buy a wfp. Just like Barn could buy an electric lathe and other expensive industrial tools and crank out spoons at a much more consistent and rapid rate. But in the process he’d compromise the very process he’s going through; a deep sense of tactile connection to the action and outcome. Maybe they call that making art.
Is it pompous to say window cleaning is art? Or that not buying a wfp makes me some sort of purist snob? I certainly hope so.