As I was out for my afternoon cigarette break in the lovely sun we had last week I noticed a tenacious boy at the corner waiting for red lights before he jumped into action wetting his squeegee and running to the waiting cars to begin his schtick. Being cynical these days, I immediately wondered if he had stolen the squeegee from the gas station down the street. And I noticed that he had a plain water bottle that he was using to wet it and thought – ugh, at least use windshield fluid…. (The OCD in me shining through!)
Beyond all that heavy cloud of judgement though, I watched him intently as he interacted with his potential ‘customers’ and how they interacted with him. It was a hot day and most had their windows up and their air conditioning on full blast. It was late afternoon, so perhaps they were finished work for the day and anxious to get home or to pick up the kids.
Squeegee boy was always smiling and very polite. He would of course just begin to clean the passenger side of the windshield, and the driver would wave him off and he would keep on going. So the driver would be forced to roll down a window and speak to him firmly – “I said no thanks!” He would smile and say “Don’t worry about it – you had a dirty windshield and I’m happy to clean it for you. Don’t worry about it!” Most times he would finish the whole windshield, but sometimes the light turned green and the driver would rush off before he could get to the second half. Sometimes he would banter with the driver if they left their window open. He would compliment the ‘pretty ladies’ and be very humble towards the ‘sirs’, all the while smiling despite their protests and obvious dislike for being made to feel guilty. I watched him for about 10 minutes and he likely cleaned four or five windshields and didn’t get a dime.
But there he was. Smiling, making conversation, interacting with people who made it obvious they wanted nothing to do with him, and performing a thankless job. While I realize he likely had many dire motivations greater than I have ever known – like a need to earn $5 just so his family can eat that day perhaps – I was struck by the strength of character, the good nature despite the circumstances, the tenacity and his situational awareness. It’s a shame there is such a stigma attached to squeegee kids. I don’t necessarily agree with the practice myself, but upon closer observation isn’t this an individual that you want working for you?!
Just look at all those qualities! He’s self motivated, doesn’t need to be told what to do, takes initiative, has people skills and communication skills. The list goes on and on! If you think about it, these qualities are hard to find nowadays in the growing generations of self-entitled softies. So the next time you see a squeegee kid, if you’re not up for a dollar or two donation, that’s understandable, but at least give him/her a business card! If they do make contact with you, then you know you’re about to help out next month’s most valuable employee! Even if all you can do is help them write up a resume and print out a few copies, it’s something.
Hire a squeegee boy today!