A Window Cleaning Story



When you’re in politics, you meet a lot of people. Some of them you’d have never met otherwise.


Most of these people, you won’t meet again. A few you’ll meet often, but only in political contexts. Very few are the ones you’ll make a personal connection with, outside of the necessities that politics put on you. One of those people is my friend Cale.


Cale cleans windows. Not for a living, mind you. He just cleans them as a hobby, makes him feel like a regular person. What he does for a living doesn’t take up much of his day.


Now I insert the obligatory “contact us” promotional message, as a favour to a friend.


What makes Cale so interesting is that he’s so willing to tell stories about the things he sees while he works. It’s impressive, he says, what you can see from outside a window, even when people should know better because they booked him to be there.


At the same time, he has a politician’s gift for obfuscation. You can tell that he’s telling you a true story, but he manages to leave out the right details that you’ll never know who he’s talking about. He says it helps him keep the stories anonymous, but still vivid even if you don’t remember any names.


One of his favourite stories was from a few years ago.


He was washing windows in a high-rise apartment. Back then, safety gear was pretty essential, and he noticed that the building didn’t exactly have good sound-proofing. If he was loud enough, anyone on the inside could hear him.


Well, for one particular window, he could see it was facing the hallway. He saw a guy, barely dressed and looking a little nervous. In front of him was a woman who looked like she’d come home from work early. Her expression, he says, quickly went from pleased to curious to annoyed.


“All in about thirty seconds,” Cale said.


He decides not to meddle or do anything. Nothing he hasn’t seen before.


Then he moves on to a nearby window, which he immediately realises is the hallway guy’s apartment. There, he finds the curtains for the bedroom are drawn, and a naked man is hiding under the bed. He’s clutching a few clothes and makes a motion asking him to keep quiet.


Cale says that in his defence, he tried. He failed, but he tried.


As far as he knows, the guy managed to get away before the wife barged in.