We've always been fascinated with risky jobs, but there are few in the world more insane to anyone with a fear of heights than a high-rise window washer. There is no amount of money you could pay us to rappel off of a giant glass building. Thankfully for people who live and work in those buildings, there are workers with the balls to do it, which is why we reached out to Reflection Windows & A Premier Services LLC to have a few of their employees answer some questions for us this week.
Westword: Tell us a little about your histories as window cleaners. Nate Carr (owner): After working in a corporate setting for many years I just couldn't take it any longer. An acquaintance turned me on to window cleaning, and within a month I was sold. When the amount of work got to be too much, I had to hire on service techs to assist me in the cleaning of houses and large office buildings, and here we are today.
Mr. Garcia: I started cleaning windows after working at a construction site, where I saw Nate cleaning windows on a house. At that time we were cleaning anything from houses to large buildings.
Chris Trujillo: I've been a window cleaner for five years. I started off working for a maintenance cleaning company, but I ran out of places to go there so I pursued an opportunity with Reflection Windows, where I'm now going on my third year.
WW: Why did you start working in the industry? NC: Two benefits of this profession are working outside and freedom. What else do you want in life?
CT: I started in this industry for its job security, and it became more than that to me. I enjoy the personal satisfaction I get at the end of each day when I see the finished projects.
WW: How would you recommend someone get started in your field? What type of person is best suited for hanging off the side of a building? MG: Make sure that you are healthy, in shape and have an open mind. Of course, it's also someone who is not afraid of heights and can be safe.
NC: I'd also recommend you should go into it with an open mind, because more than likely, it's not going to be what you expect. It's much harder than most people think. It might be a surprise, but customer service and satisfaction is key in this industry. A person best suited for high-rise would have to be one that isn't afraid of heights and who is very safety oriented.
WW: Can you describe an average day? CT: It's hard to say what an average day would be, because we have so many different types of jobs. From route work, which is cleaning store fronts/retail jobs, to high-rise, which is chair work/stage work, and residential, where we service individual residences.
WW: What's the best part of the job? MG: I enjoy seeing a completed job. No one bothers you 200 feet up in the air, and it's peaceful with a beautiful view.
CT: One of the best parts about my job would have to be the fact that every day is different and I get to be outside each and every day.
WW: What's the worst part? NC: The worst part of the job is when instructions are not followed, as it pertains to either schedules not getting completed because of weather conditions or individuals that do not follow company policy, which results in reprimand or suspension. Communication is an important key in this industry, and if for whatever reason instructions are not followed, it really frustrates me to issue warnings and/or terminations.
CT: The worst part about my job would have to be the weather, because if it's too windy we have to move out of the wind and if it's too cold or too hot it makes it more challenging to safely and effectively clean the glass.
MG: I have found that ensuring safety from the time we leave the shop to the time we return can sometimes be difficult. We have a lot of guys, so ensuring their safety can be challenging.
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WW: How about the biggest misconception? MG: That I don't care about anything and that we are not responsible for the jobs. People think it is easy and the labor is unskilled. Not true.
NC: I agree -- the biggest misconception is that the window cleaning industry is full of unskilled workers and it's an easy job. These guys dedicate their lives to this profession and truly possess a skill that not just everyone can do. It takes a real unique type of person to do what we do, someone who cares about the well-being of everyone on the crew, someone who is passionate, and someone who can think quickly to overcome any obstacles or challenges that may be set forth on any given day. Those that are in this industry know the time and skill needed to do the job right the first time -- without any accidents. Many people think we are renegades with a death wish. Not true. We all want to go home to our families at night.
CT: The biggest misconception to me would be that people think cleaning a window is more of a simple task than an art. The high-rise chair work is more like rock climbing, not just dangling from a rope!