How Much Do You Pay a Traffic Light Window Washer?

It's a sunny afternoon. You pull up to the traffic lights on your drive home from another grinding day at work. The boss doesn't respect you, your colleagues ignore you and at home you suspect your wife is having an affair with your richer, more attractive neighbour. Then, suddenly, ahead near the lights a scruffy teenager wearing a pair of Kappa pants, an exhausted grey hoodie and a black Adidas hat appears. In one hand he carries a Pump bottle containing what you presume to be heavily diluted Windex. In the other, a short squeegee — the type you've seen at Kmart for $6 a dozen times and each time considered buying before coming to your senses. Who really needs one of those? Why not just use the free one at the servo?

The kid saunters towards your car, raising the bottle half-way above his head while making direct eye contact. Do you take up his implied offer? Why not, you think to yourself. After all, once your wife comes to her senses and leaves you she'll get half your money anyway.

You grimace at the offer as the window cleaner walks ever closer. Raising two fingers from the wheel, you beckon him over. But does your windscreen even need a wash? Didn't it rain yesterday? Nevermind. It's too late now. The deal is signed. Besides, he can get rid of that brownish-yellow dot which has landed just above eye level on the glass some time since yesterday. What even is that stuff anyway - is it a dead bug, or bug crap? Or bird crap? I guess we'll never know, because before you know it the mystery liquid in the water bottle is splashed over the windscreen.

He starts with the driver's side. Not a bad job. He even cleared up that bit at the top where the windscreen wipers never reach. You know what I'm talking about, that triangle just behind the rear view mirror. A hundred times as you've been driving you've designed in your head a new wiper mechanism that does a better job that the standard one — but who would you sell it to? Who would listen to you? You're a nobody. And even if you weren't, you don't like talking to car people ever since that blinker fluid incident at the mechanic nine years ago.

The cleaner wipes over the mystery dot. Most of it goes, except for a faint outline. It's a little bit frustrating. Couldn't he go over it again? It's right there. Can't he see it too? Alas, you're hardly going to be paying professional cleaner rates here. Plus he looks like he might get an attitude if you question his work. You wonder where his parents are. Could they be window washers as well? Is your window cleaner just the latest in a dynasty of proud traffic light window washers? Probably not, you concede.

Next is the passenger side's clean. Not too bad at all. It's clean-ish. You suppose that's really the bare minimum expected of this service. But at least it's not dirtier than it was before he began his work. That's a plus. Or at least, it's not a negative.

As he's wiping away the last dregs, you think to yourself - how much do these guys get an hour anyway? The lights go red every two or three minutes. Presuming there's at least one window to clean each stop, this guy's probably earning more than you are. He works the hours he wants, doesn't pay a cent of tax, gets to be in the beautiful sunshine all day. Is this what freedom looks like? Could you do it? Tomorrow morning you could tell the boss you're leaving for good. In one final bridge-burning act, tell him his inflated sense of importance is the only thing between him getting up every morning and him driving himself into a tree at 200km/h. No, you accept. You don't have the confidence to approach strangers at the traffic lights, and looking at your hands you shamefully concede you've never done a day of physical labour in your life. Well, except that time you built a chicken coop for the girls. You've got the photos to prove it. Also, you think, the boss dying might cause people to feel sympathy for him. That would be too painful. For him to be a martyr. You frown in the driver's seat. Damn.

The window washer ambles over to the driver's side window. You press the button to your right and the glass steadily retracts into the door. No more roll-down window for you — you saved up your simoleons and picked up this 2008 Camry at the height of the COVID second-hand car boom last year. Just $12,000. He opens his hand expectantly, and hangs it forward towards you. In your coin holder you know there's a good assortment of silver and gold. There's at least a couple of 20s in there, maybe a 50, and two or three golds. You know there's a pink meanie inside your wallet, but you'll be damned if you're going to give up that baby for a window wash. Or will you?

"What's a fair price for a window clean?" You ask yourself as your hand moves away from the window switch and towards either the coin tray or wallet on the passenger seat.

The window washer watches your movements closely.

Poll Options expired

  • 10
    5c-20c
  • 7
    25c-50c
  • 44
    55c-$1
  • 269
    $1.05-$2
  • 56
    $2-$3
  • 21
    $3+
  • 403
    Nothing

Comments

  • +226 votes

    You need to pay me 3$ for reading your sentiments.

    • +11 votes

      Tree fiddy?

      •  

        Seventy twelve

        • +5 votes

          i tell them not to touch my car, then grab whatever's in the coin tray

          • +3 votes

            @queer dog geyfrog: ^ This right here is the true Oz Bargainer way. Bloke approaches your car with money …of course you are going to take some and then thank him and drive off on your way.

    • +3 votes

      I am anticipating another onslaught reply comment from OP or has ghosted us…

      • +6 votes

        Maybe OP is still reading his own submission and thus delay in response.

    • +2 votes

      TLDR

    •  

      Best comment award

    • +3 votes

      Author could have published that on Amazon Kindle, and would have made a fortune. More than the window cleaner.
      Hey OP, maybe you actually should change job.
      Oh Posted yesterday 14:22. Guess working from home ?

  • +8 votes

    Nothing
    Call 131 444 and let them know

    •  

      Saw them parked at the lights right next to a guy doing it. They did nothing. Could not believe it.

      • +6 votes

        Licensed window washer.

        •  

          Haha so it seems

      •  

        He bribed them with a freebie.

    • +27 votes

      Why be a prick to someone unfortunate, doing no real harm and even providing a small service.

      If they doing anything antisocial though, then go ahead and call.

      • -4 votes

        They get in the way when you are trying to lane filter on a motorcycle. So interrupt traffic

      • +4 votes

        I'd say they are a hazard.
        In WA they had a crackdown a few years back because one got hit by a car.
        As innocent as it is, it can have pretty dire consequences.

        Although i admit i wouldn't go out of my way to dob them in.
        As long as they're out of traffic when the lights are green then they're fine.

      • +1 vote

        If you so much as breathe in the direction of your phone at the traffic lights it's 5 demerit points in NSW, and 10 on a long weekend. They're considered such a deadly distraction that they'll take your license off you if you look at your phone a couple of times. But some muppet dodging traffic and trying to pressure you into buying a window wash is suppose to be cool and not a distraction? NO!

    • +2 votes

      too harsh 🤷‍♂️. I dont encourage this kind of behaviour but at same time the guy isnt doing any harm to you either. Happened to me 2-3 times and i didnt have cash at hand and told him during half way, he simply said no problem and continued wiling rest of the wind shield.

      •  

        I wouldn't call the police but I do have a problem when they start washing my car without asking first.

    •  

      When parked safely and legally within the engine off and handbrake on of course.

  • +3 votes

    brownish-yellow dot

    Bee 🐝 poop buddy

  • +1 vote

    Why wouldn't you pay them the same that you would expect?

  • +37 votes

    $0.00

    Its illegal in NSW

    • +1 vote

      Saw someone doing it at the Bay St/City Road/Broadway intersection on Sunday …

      • +1 vote

        Yeh, see people doing it all over the place in Sydney, still illegal tho

        • +5 votes

          Same with jaywalking, people still do it…

          Jaywalking is an offence in New South Wales. In June 2019, New South Wales Police fined over 100 people in a six-hour period for jaywalking.

          • +1 vote

            @SF3: Same with speeding, running red lights, talkihng on the phone while driving and parking like arseholes. People still do it… but, you know "ReVeNuE rAiSiNg"

            • +2 votes

              @pegaxs: Did someone say "failing to indicate"?

              • -1 vote

                @abb: Nah, “menulog”…

    • +1 vote

      Same in Victoria but the cops let it slide. I prefer these guys to go and get a proper job, get off the dole and pay tax. They are a nuisance on society. Also I’ve seen them stealing the window washer fluid supplied by the service stations to refill their bottles.

      •  

        If there is much complains the Police do take action. They clean it up nice a few years ago but the cleaners are back again quickly.

      • +1 vote

        I mean they are out there working hard to try and make money. You've got to be doing it pretty tough to risk the cops, angry motorists, motorcycles and pedestrians all to make a dollar or two (if you're lucky).

        If you're on the dole and willing to do that to make some money I'll give you more kudos than someone who's sitting on the couch smoking it away.

        Yes, of course I'd rather both of them get jobs, but realistically there are some people who just aren't suited to full time employment (or any employment in some cases). There's always people who are going to be part of the government targeted ~4.8% unemployment group, so while the media can demonise them as bludgers there's a number of legitimate reasons that you might be unemployed, short or long term.

        I'll always advocate compassion for those with less. Why the hate?

    • +1 vote

      There's a guy at the intersection of the City West Link Road and The Crescent in Sydney who is cleaning windscreens 5 days a week. Sometimes he wears wigs and fancy costumes, around Christmas time he's dressed up like Santa Claus, sometimes he's on a scooter and other times he's not even washing windscreens but just collecting money. He's been doing so for at least 18 months, so obviously the cops really don't care about it. So yes, it's technically illegal, but apparently not enforced (in Sydney, at least).

      • +2 votes
        •  

          Yup, that's him. I figured he'd been at it for much longer, but I've only been passing through there on a regular basis the past 18 months or so.

          • +2 votes

            @dcash: I once got told by him that I am going to die. I was waiting my turn at the lights with my road bike going about my commute to work in the city. Lacks the social skills for a normal workplace.

            • +2 votes

              @yokel: If it was just a general statement that you will die, he is just telling the truth.

              •  

                @GG57: Do you regularly make such "general statements" to people you see on the street? If so, I hope I don't ever run into you.

            • -1 vote

              @yokel: Wow, what a thing to say! He's obviously an odd-ball, so it doesn't surprise me. I do my best just to smile in acknowledgment if I mistakenly make eye contact, while making it absolutely clear that I don't want my windscreen smeared with a dirty squeegee. At a busy intersection, irrespective of the law (which makes it clear that what he is doing is illegal), he really should not be there. Having said that, I reckon from what I've witnessed, he gets a customer at least 1 in 5 cycles of the traffic lights. Probably makes a killing, "knocks off" at 2pm and spends the remainder of the day at the pub.

            • +1 vote

              @yokel: He's probably seen enough accidents and a tonne of close shaves.

              Cycling is dangerous in Sydney

              I cycle on occasion

              •  

                @Baghern: Probably mostly caused by him distracting drivers by illegally soliciting.

  • +24 votes
    • +24 votes

      The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under bridges, begging in the streets and stealing bread.

      • -4 votes

        citation

        • +1 vote

          Anatole France (pretty sure it's from Le Lys Rouge) - memory failing me but too lazy to look for confirmation.

      •  

        That's a bit like forbidding boys and girls from getting pregnant at school — it probably isn't going to happen to the first group…

        •  

          Surely that is the point of the statement… that whilst it appears egalitarian, in practice clearly targets one group

          •  

            @parsimonious one: Oh yeah, in hindsight it does look like it's been written sarcastically

    • +1 vote

      Actually, roadside window-washers are banned along parts of the Canberra light rail corridor, but it certainly doesn’t stop them from popping up now and again.

  • +7 votes

    Plot twist.

    "The window washer watches your movements closely."

    Then throws open your drivers door, shanks you, and steals your car.

    • +5 votes

      Alas, in South Africa, quite true— unless you get the Glock working PRONTO .

      •  

        You would think it's all jokes and laughs when people say things like that about South Africa, but then you befriend someone from South Africa and when they tell you their stories from everyday life you think they are playing Grand Theft Auto in real life 24/7…

    • +3 votes

      If the window washer is watching my movements closely, who invited him into my toilet?

  • +2 votes

    I didn't know it was illegal in NSW until this thread; today I learned

    Also it seems to be men in their 20s/30s/possibly 40s rather than teenagers going by my experience (they usually hang out at the Meccano Set)

    •  

      Isn't it obviously going to be illegal though?

      I mean people wandering around in traffic doing any kind of business with drivers is going to be illegal.

      • +1 vote

        Pretty sure here in VIC, donation collection isn't illegal (I can't imagine a big group like the salvos doing it otherwise), so it's not a stretch to think that doing the same activity, but also washing a window would be legal as well.

  • +3 votes

    I was going to say 53 cents, but your poll doesn't allow that.

    •  

      rounds up to 55

      • +2 votes

        OH, the old ROUND UP trick!

        Shame on you.

        •  

          that's how cash works here, if you want to count every single cent then wacko america is the place to be

          •  

            @queer dog geyfrog: Next you'll ask me to pay for chicken salt.

            I know where this is going.

            GET OFF MY LAWN!

    •  

      I was going so say $2 but OP hasn't followed a consistent rule and $2 falls into two categories… so I can't vote either, alas

  • +1 vote

    Ok

  • +1 vote

    Nothing, because it's against the road rules for them to be out there's cleaning windows at traffic lights.

    "Don't touch my car!…"

    • +4 votes

      Now that I am home… for anyone who cares, it is Road Rule 236 (4)(e);

      236 Pedestrians not to cause a traffic hazard or obstruction
      (4) A pedestrian must not stand on, or move onto, a road to—
      (a) solicit contributions, employment or business from an occupant of a vehicle, or
      (b) hitchhike, or
      (c) display an advertisement, or
      (d) sell or offer articles for sale, or
      (e) wash or clean, or offer to wash or clean, the windscreen of a vehicle.

      • +3 votes

        But car body is fair game?

  • +14 votes

    You pull up to the traffic lights on your drive home from another grinding day at work. The boss doesn't respect you, your colleagues ignore you and at home you suspect your wife is having an affair with your richer, more attractive neighbour.

    O.P.- R U OK?

  • +14 votes

    Do not engage their services ever.

    They are a traffic hazard, they will hold up traffic whilst finishing the job and getting paid.

    These encounters have descended into physical altercations, in Perth there is a particularly agro contingent of these people on Great Eastern Highway intersections.

    I avoid them and tell them nice and early I do not want them to do anything.

    • +1 vote

      They are a traffic hazard, they will hold up traffic whilst finishing the job and getting paid.

      If you want to hold up traffic look at our phone like everyone else.

  • +11 votes

    plot twist, the window washer is (profanity) your wife.

    • +7 votes

      plot twist, the window washer is your (profanity) wife.
      .

      • +1 vote

        plot twist, the (profanity) is the window washer's wife.

  • +42 votes

    OP, you should write a novel, your talent is wasted here.

  • +5 votes

    TL-DR

    Obviously OP has much too much free time on their hands.

    As my Cerato needs to have its wipers in service mode to lift them otherwise they hit the bonnet edge and chip the paintwork anyone attempting to lift them for any reason will end up being told to have sex and travel.

    • +1 vote

      my Cerato needs to have its wipers in service mode to lift them otherwise they hit the bonnet edge and chip the paintwork

      What's the upside to that design choice?!

      • +2 votes

        What's the upside to that design choice?!

        When I find one I'll let you know :)

        • +1 vote

          More aerodynamic to tuck them in under the bonnet. Design upside is less fuel use.

    •  

      How to turn on service mode?

  • +3 votes

    This was the highlight of my day so far, thanks op.

    • +1 vote

      Nailed it!

  •  

    1 DOGE

  • +4 votes

    Too good, funny read! Busy day at work op?

  • +1 vote

    I'm surprised that "WTF!" is not one of the options… That's my answer anyway; happy to learn that it's illegal.

  • +1 vote

    Needs a TLDR

    • +1 vote

      something something 2008 Camry windows washing. (At least it's a Toyota!.)

      To Pay or not to Pay.

    • +1 vote

      I disagree, it was a good read lol

  • +9 votes

    Classic read on an every day situation. I think this chap is a thought provoking talent and I expect he is at heart an author or should be one!. Thanks for the laugh!!.

  • +1 vote

    I think I will wait till this story is made into a movie and vote on IMDB.

    Judging by the story, the movie will be longer than Zack Snyder's cut of Justice League.

  • +2 votes

    Nothing, it's an illegal 'job'. And where do they get the water, pipi?

  • +3 votes

    A lot of people here saying that it is illegal, so don't pay them anything. But in OP's novella, they engaged the services of the window washer. In doing so, there is probably some sort of contract entered into, and there is an expectation that money will change hands.

    •  

      Sounds like a gumtree transaction going wrong!

    • +2 votes

      Does that matter if its illegal?

      I enter a contract with a hitman to shank OP.. is that a legally binding contract? Given that.. stabbing people is illegal?

      • +2 votes

        Remember the ATO will happily take your tax payment for any income even if illegally earned. They will also keep quiet from the police if your tax affairs are in good order.

  •  

    $0, it's free from servro

  • +6 votes

    I always activate my cars built in washers when they approach me, a silent passive aggressive way of saying "no".