Windshield Wiper (Vancouver Magazine)

Shop Talk: A Look at the People Who Keep This City Humming

Windshield Wiper

Traffic lights are his best friends: A squeegee kid comes clean

Vancouver magazine, December 2000

Justin, 18, works at the intersection of Thurlow and Davie, wearing a modified Mohawk, a spiky choke collar and tattered jeans. He is a squeegee kid, cleaning, or attempting to clean, car windshields in hopes of a little spare change. We went back to take a picture of Justin, but he’d gone, we were told. Split to Seattle.

Q: How did you get started in the squeegee business?
A: Panning sucks, so I just picked up a squeegee and started going.

Q: How long have you been at it?
A: Actually, just two weeks.

Q: You like it so far?
A: Yeah.

Q: How much can you earn?
A: It’s different every day. You can make up to, like, 80 bucks a day.

Q: Really! Wow. I guess it depends on the weather.
A: Well, yeah. You can’t squeegee in the rain, obviously. (Laughs.)

Q: What hours do you work?
A: Usually from two to, like, five.

Q: So three hours. And 80 bucks in three hours?!
A: No, no. Some people do that, but I only make 35, 40 bucks a day.

Q: What could you do panning?
A: Panning? Oh God, like 15 bucks a day. Fifteen, 20 dollars a day.

Q: What’s the biggest tip you’ve ever gotten?
A: A five.

Q: Is it illegal to squeegee?
A: Yeah, I think so. I guess so. I don’t know.

Q: What about people’s attitudes in cars?
A: Actually, I almost kicked a guy’s door in about 10 minutes ago. He let me soap up his whole car and when I went to take it off, he decided to turn on his windshield wipers. And that just pissed me off because you can rip the whole net right off your squeegee with a windshield wiper.

Q: Do you take pride in your work?
A: No, not really. (Laughs.)

Q: But you want to do a good job, don’t you?
A: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I try my best to do a good job, or else I’ll suddenly just start getting a bad reputation.

Q: What advice would you give a young person interested in becoming a squeegee kid?
A: (Pause.) I don’t know.

Q: Have you ever done anything like it as a kid? Washing windows?
A: Nope.

Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A: I don’t look that far ahead.