Story of a... Window Washer

DAVE HANSON, 48, lives the high life and considers it good, clean fun.



Norma Lopez Molina

“It’s such an adrenaline rush, stepping over the edge of the building for the first time every morning. I’ve been doing high-rise work like this for 30 years and it still gets to me. Those butterflies in your stomach, the view—there’s nothing like it.”

“Probably the worst job is construction clean-up after they’ve built the building but have yet to turn it over to the owners. We have to get concrete and paint off, which is just such a pain. Other than that its mostly just dirt and grime, regular city smog and everything else you can imagine. I mean, we’ve taken birds off the windows before. And bird feces, tons of that. Let me tell you, that is terrible to get off.”

“We use Dawn dishwashing liquid to clean with. Most people think it’s some kind of special solution.”
 

“Our company [A1 Orange Cleaning] does everything from storefronts to a 50-story building.” Cleaning time varies, Hanson says, but a structure like the Wells Fargo building in downtown Orlando, which is 18 stories, “takes about a week with three guys.”

“The Promenade in Atlanta is probably the tallest building I’ve ever cleaned; it’s 52 stories. In Orlando, the tallest building I’ve cleaned would have to be the courthouse at 32 stories.”

Hanson is also his company’s operations manager for high-rise work. “We do specialized training and safety courses, and we have redundant backups: Guys that go over the wall have two ropes, the one they’re using and one just in case they need it.’’

“A lot of the work is in the classroom first and then it’s out on the job site. We’ll start them out low and then go from there. I always tell the guys you’ll either love this job and never want to do anything else, or I won’t see you tomorrow, and that’s the way it is. Once it gets in your blood, it’s there for life.”  

“We use something called a bosun’s chair that’s basically a piece of plywood cut square with a nylon strap that goes underneath it that we use to sit on when we’re rappelling down a building. We also use a parapet clamp to attach our roping systems to the building if there’s not a built-in anchor for us to attach to.’’

“If I’m walking downtown, I’m constantly looking up at the skyline and the windows and just seeing if they’re dirty or not.”

“As far as us looking into buildings while we’re cleaning, that’s normally impossible because of the mirrored windows. So it’s a they-can-see-us-but-we can’t-see-them type of thing. But you hear people knocking or writing thank-you notes and sliding them through a crack in the window.”

“I may or may not have caught an elderly woman enjoying the view from her balcony stark naked out by the beaches a while back. That was interesting.”
 

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