Window cleaning

I have the privilege of living in lofty heights. This was already the case when I was a child. Our skyscraper stood on a mountain, we lived on the 9th floor and had a phenomenal view of the city. At that time all windows could be opened, so it was my father’s job to clean them here and there.

Now I live in a high-rise again and I also have a phenomenal view of the lake, the city and the Alps, which are now snow-covered. Most of the windows cannot be opened at all. In the technical terminology it is called “comfort ventilation”. The air from outside is centrally drawn in, filtered and distributed throughout the apartment. The windows can be cleaned from the outside but not at all. That’s why there are two men here and there (I’ve never seen a woman before) who go from window to window, hung in a basket, and clean the windows. This week it happened again and since I work in the home office from early in the morning until late in the evening, I could watch them extensively at almost every one of our windows around me (and we really have many). The first time they scared me. I did yoga to clear my head and stood straight upside down when I saw the basket in front of the window. People no, I don’t want any spectators during my yoga exercise. At the next window I waved to them and at the next ones I showed them to the other participants in my video conference. The men outside were thus integrated into my daily work routine and waved to me friendly each time.

I have great respect for their work. I myself am not afraid of heights, just a healthy respect. But in this shaky, constantly moving basket, all day long – that would probably have caused me difficulties. A few years ago I was in New York and when I was standing where early WTC was, the windows of a high-rise building in the neighborhood were being cleaned. One of the ropes broke and the basket was only hanging on one. After a while the two men managed to escape inside the building and no one was hurt, but when I myself saw the basket hanging from a rope on the 30th floor, it caused me almost phasic discomfort.

The most surprising story in this context I experienced in Noordwijk in Holland. I lived in a hotel with a view of the sea on the top floor. Simply stunning! In the morning I got up and lightly dressed I started brushing my teeth in the bathroom.  I looked in the mirror and had the feeling that something was wrong, because behind me was a man. But I lived alone. I looked again (I didn’t have my glasses on) and realized that he was not standing directly behind me, but somewhere outside the building. I took the bath towel and went to look. My room had no balcony but a ramp on which he moved. It was a handyman and I was quite awake even without a shower.

All this leads to a realization that I myself keep forgetting. It is naive to think that somewhere where there are windows, you are safe from the eyes of others. And those are only windows. With video conferencing there are other stories.

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