July 13, 2001
I'm not a big believer in washing the
car. During the summer I head off into the countryside every
weekend I can manage, and usually come back covered in bugs
the car that is, not me.
That's why I'm apparently one of the
few people who doesn't mind squeegee kids. I know, I know
they were the scourge of the downtown. Society matrons were outraged,
editorials written, laws were passed, and cities authorized well-meaning
but pointless retraining programs.
I don't think I've ever had a bad squeegee
experience. Sure, the whole dog-collar-wearing, face piercing
thing can be a bit of an eye-opener early in the morning. But
on the whole, I've found them to be generally polite and respectful
of a waving off.
But recently squeegee kids have become
a bit of an endangered species, which is a bit of a loss to those
of us too lazy to scrape the bugs off our own windshields. When
I spot one on a corner I'm not sure which one of us is more excited.
I'm on the verge of becoming a nuisance to them.
I also wondered about the risks of my
being on the receiving end of an illegal activity. I suppose
you could call me a squeegee John. Is it illegal to solicit for
the purpose of a good squeegeeing? Will my photo and license
plate end up on a neighbourhood watch website? If caught, will
I have to go to squeegee John school to avoid punishment?
"For heaven's sakes officer, all
I was looking for is a quick splash of soapy water around the
wipers. It's not like it meant anything. It wasn't even very
good. Just don't tell my wife she doesn't understand why
I can't clean my windshield at home."
Anyway, so when I was driving downtown
last week squinting through a layer of dead bugs
I welcomed a squeegee kid over to the car. For a toonie he scraped
enough of the animal kingdom off my windshield to see where I
I was about to drive on when he tapped
on my window with his studded, leather glove and handed me something.
It was a CD. He had about a dozen more of them in his belt.
My first thought was that the squeegee
kids were starting their own customer loyalty program. Other
businesses are always giving away points or prizes to keep you
coming back. Why not the enterprising street kids? Maybe those
city-sponsored small business training programs set up for them
have paid off. After all, maybe the only difference between the
squeegee kids and the gas companies is slick promotion and the
size of their customer base.
Then I thought my freelance windshield
wiper was an aspiring musician, and this was how he was promoting
his new band. But no - when I got home I found the CD was actually
a computer disk promoting a contest for a multi-billion dollar
Now probably my squeegee guy grabbed
a bunch of free promotional CDs off a counter and was handing
them out on his own as part of his entrepreneurial initiative.
A little 'thank you' for his valued customers.
Or maybe just maybe - some smart
marketing guy at a corporate giant decided to literally take
it to the streets and recruited a bunch of squeegee kids to spread
the good word.
I hope not. I'd hate to find out that
my green-haired, nose-ringed friends have gone corporate on me.