|'Ryan, do you do any services other than window cleaning?'|
Confessions of a window cleaner - you don't need to make it up - "You could virtually make it up and it would all be true." Those are the words of Geoff Thorn, President of the Australian Window Cleaning Federation. You name it, it seems window cleaners have seen it and for good reason it is a trade that has earned the reputation for more than its share of 'wink, wink, know what I mean' humour.
It's fertile territory that provided ample material for the 1970's film 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner', arguably described as a 'classic sex comedy'. Even earlier in the 1930s ukulele-playing George Formby put the industry on the map with the song 'When I'm Cleaning Windows'.
The lyrics in one version included the lines: 'Now lots of girls I've had to jilt, For they admire the way I'm built, It's a good job I don't wear a kilt, When I'm cleaning windows!" No wonder the BBC banned it from the nation's airwaves with director John Reith dismissing it as a 'disgusting little ditty'. But is the reputation still justified? Definitely if Ryan Burchey of Ryan's Window Cleaning is anything to go by. It is relevant to know he is 32 and single.
"Recently I was working a big home up in Vaucluse," he said. "It was one of those warm days the week before last. I was dripping in sweat. When it was time to pay the lady came over to me. All she could do was look at my chest," he said. "She said would you like to go for a swim in the pool? I thought why is this woman flirting with me? I had met her husband. I said I needed to get home. She said: 'No, no, go for a swim.' I went for a quick dip and I noticed she kept looking out through the lounge windows."
Another time, Ryan recalled, he was in a house near Parramatta on the water and the woman was there by herself. I'd been there for an hour or two and I was doing the inside of the windows in her bedroom. She came in and sat down on the bed and said: 'Ryan, do you do any services other than window cleaning?' I said: "I can help you with your gutters. I can help you with your palm trees." She must have thought I was stupid and didn't know what was going on. She just laughed it off."
He says there were similar incidents with ladies in Lane Cove, Terrey Hills and Bondi where a woman told him she had to have a shower before going to the gym. "She said: 'Can you get started on this window on the outside?' I said: 'Sure, no problems.' That's the exact same place she came in and took all her clothes off and started having a shower. I thought she's just trying to drive me up the wall here."
Not all the stories are salacious. Mirko of Sunstruck Window Cleaning said he was cleaning large panels of glass at an office on the North Shore which hadn't been cleaned for a long time. "When I had almost finished one of the employees walked into the glass thinking there was nothing there and broke his nose. It was funny and horrific at the same time. He was so embarrassed. I said to him: 'That's the best compliment you can give me'."
Mr Thorn, who has 30 years in the industry said all the stories were likely to be true but said the more serious issue was cleaners setting up without insurance. "A ladder can blow over and hit a child and there's just no insurance. I know of itinerant people who start window cleaning businesses because they want to make a dollar fast. They have no insurance so if something goes wrong they just walk away. You really need to make sure all tradesmen are insured."