Peeking into people's windows is considered to be nosy, but when you clean windows for a living, that's pretty much unavoidable. Think about all the things you've done in the privacy of your own home. Then consider the fact that a window washer could have seen the whole thing. These Redditors share their window washing experiences and their crazier than you can imagine. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I'm not a skyscraper window washer, but was a janitor who had to wash the windows in a 6 story building as part of my job. I used a mix of ladders and rappelling down from the roof with a harness to clean the outside windows.
One day, I was washing the outside windows on the executive floor where all the bosses and higher up employees had their offices. I was done with one window, so I moved to the next window. I looked in and saw the CEO of the company snorting something in his office with the door locked and the lights off. He looked up and saw me in the window and we made uncomfortable eye contact for about 15 seconds, then I just pretended I saw nothing and kept washing the windows. Neither of us expected to find ourselves in that situation and we were both caught off guard so we just kinda stared for lack of anything better to do in that moment. Then, I just went about my business and I'm sure he kept on doing his. I'm sure he was nervous because if I had done what I was legally supposed to do and report him, then he would lose everything, so he looked a lot like a deer in the headlights.
I never spoke a word about it to him or anyone in the office, but the last day I worked there, he gave me a farewell card with 200 bucks in it and a free solar powered portable phone charger that the company produced and sold."
"I used to live in a high rise condo. Sometimes the window cleaners go up the side of the building where my small bathroom window is. One Saturday morning after a crazy night out, I ended up needing to take a really spicy dump. So I opened up the window and sat down on my toilet, hungover, with my eyes closed thinking about where I went wrong in my life choices that lead me to this moment where death seemed like a reasonable alternative. Then I hear my window close.
Apparently the window cleaner needed to close it to go up higher. Cue the slow ascent of their window elevator thing, they saw me destroying my toilet. We made eye contact and I gave him the universal 'nod' of understanding. He gave me one back and continued his slow ascent upwards at like an inch a second."
"I've been a rope access window cleaner for a couple years and have seen my fair share of weirdness. A couple incidents that stick out are:
A young couple having fun that invited me to join.
An apartment in a ritzy building completely empty other than a table with several sheets of freshly printed, uncut $100 bills.
A real mummy sarcophagus. I've been offered several joint hits and various adult beverages while hanging off the side of a building. Animals were always my favorite though. Cats and puppies lose their minds seeing you outside their window and will happily chase your mop and squeegee while you work. They always brightened the day.
Another memorable moment was causing a mild panic in the dining room of a local retirement home dementia ward. We felt bad and went as quickly as we could, but the nurses laughing their butts off as they tried to contain the pandemonium made us feel slightly better."
"Well, I was washing the outside of the windows at the group home I work at (state was coming by later that week and I was super bored).
I walk up to one of my dudes' bedroom windows to wash it off and apparently he hears me outside somehow even though he had his radio turned up to about nine freaking thousand, like he always does.
He rips up his blinds, totes naked, and starts slapping himself repeatedly in the forehead and screaming.
This was pretty normal for him, but it's definitely the strangest thing I've ever seen so far in my life while washing a window."
"My uncle has been doing it for years and had many weird encounters, but this one is kinda sad:
Having changed companies, he started at this new apartment building. Near the top, there was this old lady with a dog. The dog was young enough and was always excited to see him. Eventually, he started talking to this woman when he was working through a small window, they became somewhat friends. Then one day, almost a year on the job, he went up and for the first time the apartment was empty except for the dog, which he found odd. When he was finished up, he tried to check and see if she was in but got no reply.
A day later, a member of the staff from the apartment block (I think it was the landlord, but I can’t remember) got back to him and told him that she passed away, and that she had no family. Assuming that my uncle knew her, the landlord asked about the dog, seeing if there was anything that could be done. My uncle being the kind fella he was, took the dog.
Nearly ten years later, my uncle still has the dog, a little terrier name Pumpkin."
"My ex was a high rise window cleaner and he always talked about the crazy things women did. It seems like the glass gives them a sense of security and they do things that I don’t think they’d do if that glass wasn’t there.
Women flashing and pressing their chests against the glass. Mooning and pressing their butt cheeks on the glass. Writing their phone numbers and pressing it against the glass. There was one point when we were engaged and he would hold his finger up and point to his ring (he wore an engagement ring too), even though it didn’t seem to stop some of the women. In fact, it made some of them try harder he said. It really didn’t bother me. I saw it as women having fun... that 'bachelorette party' mindset. It was when I found out later that he took some of them up on their window 'offers' that it bothered me. One of the many reasons we are no longer together - but that story is for another day!
He did say the hardest for him were the children’s hospitals and when he’d clean the windows of the very, very sick children. His company did do the 'dress up as super heroes' thing while they cleaned the windows, which made it fun for kids, but he said it was still heartbreaking for them."
"Window cleaner here, I have a few stories of cleaning high rises that still make me chuckle.
My co-worker, who no longer works there, always used to crap his pants... like... he had an issue, but never took care of it medically. I don't know, but it was always a joke. One day after lunch, we were strapping up to go over the side and he turns to me and says, 'Dude...how quick do you think we can get this drop done?'
Me: 'It’s only a seven story, so maybe 30 minutes or so. Why?'
Him: 'Alright, let’s go.'
It was a goofy edge so sometimes we would hand each other our buckets of water. The second I handed him his water, he screamed into my face 'DANG FLABBIT!!'
What I witnessed next was probably the quickest descent I’d ever seen, as he was cursing the entire time down the rope. Absolute hilarity. For clarification, yes, he indeed crapped himself.
Different co-workers. There were three of us that dropped next to each other. One of them LOVED messing with people on the inside. This was a dorm, about 25 stories or so. Near halfway down the building, you could really start swinging, and he yelled at me and the other guy to swing over to him. On his drop, was a college girl passed out on the window sill.
Him: 'On the count of 3, slam your suction cup on the glass and scream.'
We proceeded to scare the living crap out of this poor girl. She fell off the sill almost immediately. It ended with everyone laughing, she took a selfie with us and later met us at the bottom of the building and punched all of us (playfully). She had a good spirit about it."
"My uncle has been doing this job over twenty years, so I’ve heard a few weird stories from him:
A famous footballer who was NOT with his wife, but a paid acquaintance while his wife was pregnant. Not long after this the company were asked to sign NDA’s.
A hoarder whose windows were slowly being hidden by the years of 'collections.'
A sign on a window asking them to not clean the bathroom window. Obviously not knowing which window was to what room, they went about their jobs. The bathroom had skinned rabbits hung up.
A woman filming an adult film.
He saw what looked like a murder scene. Uncle reported it, but was later told it was fake blood for a TV show that was filming there.
His favorite? A dog breeder (Okay, breeder not the right word. It was someone who had 2 litters) and every 4 weeks he went back to clean the building and got to see the pups growing up. When he went back and they were roughly 12 weeks, there was one pup left. He asked for her and now he’s got a Rottie called Holly."
"I worked as a rope access window cleaner for 10 years.
As you’d expect, we see quite a number of women's chests, which always brightens the day, but it’s counterpoint is the roughly equal number of terrible bush on display.
Always wave and have a chuckle with the kids you see, their initial shyness and surprise at seeing you is invariably replaced by total glee when you wave at them…never gets old and makes your day.
I’ve witnessed numerous amateur adult video shoots, one or two professional ones. I used to regularly do the glass on a flat full of lingerie-clad paid acquaintances, but you also see a darker, sadder side of humanity.
I saw flats bare of furniture except a mattress and some clothes. I saw serial hoarders and also some people who you suspect have seen no one else but you for the week.
Every single building roof is littered with bones, birds, small animals, and nests.
Once you’ve been doing the job for a while, it’s 99% drudgery, with the occasional, brief distraction of something like the above to keep your brain from turning to jelly."
"Ex skyscraper window cleaner here, but in Hong Kong.
Skyscrapers in recent times have these 'fire floors' built in, like, every fifteenth floor, where the whole floor is empty, no walls, no windows, it's like as if someone forgot to build a floor there, it's just pillars, the use for them is if fire is breaking out, it won't spread up past that floor.
Anyway, a lot of people in the building I work at like to use that empty floor to do weird things. Some will practice music, some like to eat their lunch at that place. It does have a nice view of the sea. Some folks like to think no one will see them bang each other if they do it behind a pillar.
We never paid much attention to anything that goes on in that floor, even if they are hooking up or what not, it's just funny when they are going at it good and proper and don't realize we were silently lowering down from above, having heard them go at it from two floors up. I don't know why people do it, everyone who works in that building knows we clean windows everyday, maybe they just couldn't hold it in any longer, who knows.
Anyway, it's always funny seeing them in that floor banging, completely spaced out of their minds, but with two blokes staring at them and hanging forty floors off the ground in a COX cradle. I always love seeing their face turn and twist when they spot us watching them like watching smut."
"I used to be a residential window washer, and sometimes clients would want the inside cleaned in addition to the outside.
The first worst was a morbidly obese man who was living at home, I believe on hospice care, but definitely at least with a full-time nurse. The man chain smoked inside his house non-stop. When we cleaned the inside, the water was yellow coming off the glass.
Second was the home of the city's university president. It was absolutely disgusting. We would find old dog crap lying around. We walked in to their kitchen - dishes were everywhere and a frying pan had a couple of photos soaking in some kind of oil or grease."
"Once while cleaning a high rise apartment, an old lady kindly asked me if I was hungry and proceeded to open her window and hand me a pizza slice.
So I sat there, 27 stories up, tangling on my chair and eating pizza.
It was a good day."
"I installed the moving windows for the suites at several football stadiums (Mile High Stadium in Denver, Clemson, Duke to name a few).
While at Ole Miss, we arrived on site at 5:00 in the morning on a Wednesday just like any other day. There were only two ways up to the suites, which was either a super sketchy 5 story construction elevator or a 5 story hike up stairs on the outside of the building. Naturally, I took the stairs maybe 4 times out of absolute necessity.
So, we get in the elevator, half wasted from the night before and half asleep. I start going up, and start hearing a loud knocking noise above us. We all but crapped ourselves. We stopped on the next floor and got out to see two naked dudes with a sleeping bag who decided to camp on top of the elevator overnight. They had left their clothes on a ledge near where the elevator was originally, so they also didn’t have access to their clothes at this point.
Because my boss was the biggest jerk in the world, he just saw this as a 'not my problem' situation and got back in the elevator. He took it to the top floor (which is the one we were working on), pocketed the elevator key, and went about his day. They had to figure out where the stairs were (like a quarter mile walk through a labyrinth in the dark) and walk down, and re-find the empty elevator shaft. I gave the directions as best I could, not sure if they ever found their way back to their clothes."
"In 2016, I moved to New York for a short period and was fired after a month at the first job I found for not being hip enough or something along those lines, so I hit Craigslist and found a window-washing trainee position in the Staten Island area and, with a little pickup truck in tow, applied to them first thing. I wasn't there very long, like I said, (am somewhat afraid of heights, but also just a little incapable of flying) and only stuck it out a few months in order to make the money necessary to help make it back off the east coast before winter hit.
Unnecessary details...but just to make clear that I'm surprised how tame some of these reports are, considering the brevity of the time I spent dangling like a dingleberry outside people's offices and bedrooms. Like, is there an unwritten rule somewhere not to talk about fistfights, or freakishly debauched adult video shoots, or horrifically expensive curiosity-shop-esque and probably illegal furniture..? I was just lucky I guess (Lucky I didn't fall to my death in sheer panic, really).
So I was somewhere on the second face and finishing off a floor some 40 miles into space, and inching down, always studying the most distant scenery for comfort, hand clasped tightly to the trembling wound steel cable...I hear my trainer cough loudly. I look over and see him spitting out his coffee. At first, for just a second, I thought nervously he might be choking or else some kind of medical emergency I would have deal with alone, but then came a guffaw and it was apparent that he was laughing. He then pointed, into the glass, guts busting even louder. I looked inward and didn't see anything at first, only what appeared to be an office space full of empty cubicles and desks. But then in the far back corner I noticed movement and had to step in close next to my coca companero for better visibility...
At a glance, it looked like crumpled plastic or torn off wallpaper rippling loosely in a light breeze, but it certainly wasn't. It was two of the fattest people I've ever witnessed, buck naked, doing it like animals facing the other way. Both about the same size, big as sea cows and white as plaster Paris.
But the best of all in this exhibit was the additional impression of a struggle or, god forbid, violence. It was the way the clothing was strewn about the floor...but also there was some paper scattered around close by and, get this, an overturned desk with what was likely a printer or fax machine in a tangle of wires just next to it.
If they'd heard us laughing they either didn't care or were possibly too embarrassed/startled to acknowledge it. In any case though we were in mutual agreement to hurry on to the far side before they did.
And that was before I experienced more vertigo and more anxiety than I could handle out there standing on that janky plank."
"The strangest was a woman who watched me do my work from the other side, pointing at all the streaks and spots as if I were missing it all. Her windows were filthy because we'd had a rain storm followed by a dust storm (only in Texas). I knew it'd take more than one pass to get it all, so I started with the big squeegee to get the bulk of the dirt off before going at it again with the smaller one that doesn't leave streaks. She was losing her mind tapping during the first pass, tapping on the parts I was going to go over again. She pointed out the wet streaks that dry up almost immediately into nothing but clean windows. She pointed at the spots I had to really get at when the squeegee didn't get them. She pointed at me a lot, and I'm not sure what that was about.
As part of the job, I also remove any spider webs or hornet/wasp's nests I see. Wasps/Hornets aren't really a big deal if you get the jump on them. You reach up, grab their mud nest, and just smash it in your hands before they get out to bite you. This lady kept freaking out and making barfing faces whenever I did it. She looked completely disgusted. She didn't ask me to stop cleaning her windows though, so I don't know what she expected me to do. Not do what I was contracted to do?
The lady clearly thought I was a neanderthal. She later complained that she had to do all the work, pointing it all out to me. I tried to explain that I could sit in a bus and point out the route, but that doesn't change the work the bus driver is doing. She complained that I couldn't be that smart because I was a window washer and window washers are lazy. I explained it was one of two jobs I was working while taking a full course load at the university."
"The strangest thing is what isn't so strange any more, at least here in Oregon. Pot plants, all the time. Now that it's legal, seems like every other house has at least one or two plants. And not limited to any kind of stereotypical person - all stripes of people.
I've been cleaning windows for 12 years and there's no way this would have been so open even just a couple years ago. But here we are, legal as can be, and it's great (even though I don't smoke myself). But it's totally weird, growing up for so many years where getting caught with one plant could land you in jail.
Also weird is the silhouette of feathers that a bird leaves behind on glass after it flies into the window at full speed (and probably dies). We call that a ghost."
"One of my friends cleans windows part time while studying. He says it's usual to see nudity once in a while, but he can't forget one house where he refuses to go now.
He was 23 at that time and got to a HUGE mansion along with coworkers. The (very obese) owner lived with his (also very obese) wife and the two of them had like a whole team of maids. When he arrived, this one maid came out to welcome them and tell them they could happen to see the couple making love, but if they do they should just keep on working on the windows as the couple want the work done quickly.
This was awkward but okay.
Now, unfortunately, my friend being the new guy was put to work on the couple's bedroom's side of the house. As he completes other windows, he gets to the couple's bedroom window. Now imagine this 400lb guy and even heavier wife (trying to) bump uglies. What was weird though was that three maids were standing besides the bed 'helping' them. I.e helping the fat guy go in and out. You could see the terror in the maids' eyes of what they had chosen to do in their life once they realized my friend was seeing everything.
Pretty sure that messed him up real bad."