There was a long-suffering look in her eyes and a grim, resolute set to her lips. Arthritis had made her joints knobby and her fingers twisted. I didn’t think she looked very dependable. I informed her, “I need you to wash my windows.”
The old lady sighed, and after a moment of silence whined, “Why don’t you ask me cook a meal for you instead? I don’t want to wash windows.”
I exclaimed impatiently, “Look, I know it isn’t fun to wash windows, but winter is coming. Dust, cobwebs and fly specks need to be washed off the glass. I want the windows sparkling clean so we can enjoy watching the beautiful first snow falls and birds coming to eat at the feeders.”
She replied, “Washing windows makes my hands and shoulders hurt. Also, I’m not as strong as I used to be. Some of the windows stick. What if I can’t put the windows back together after they’re washed?”
These were valid concerns. After a moment of deep thought, I announced, “Start with the easy windows. In the past, you washed every window in the house all in a day’s time. Just do a few windows today. Maybe tomorrow or the day after you can do a couple more. If you are unable to put the windows back together, it isn’t the end of the world. We’ll just wait until someone who can do it for us comes for a visit. Now, get to work!”
The old woman in the mirror made a disrespectful face at me and as she turned away to do my bidding, muttered, “Slave-driver!”
I called out, “Just because you’re washing a few windows doesn’t mean you’re getting out of making supper!”
Good help is hard to get. Especially when you’re hiring yourself. There’s so much back talk to put up with!
My house has been remodeled, but the job was carried out over a twenty-five-year period of time. My husband and I did one or two rooms at a time. For some inexplicable reason, we never made sure all the windows were all the same style or brand. That’s why every year I have to relearn how to put the different windows back together after the glass is washed.
A few of the windows can be tipped out so the inside and outside glass can be washed with ease. Other windows are supposed to tip out, but it would require the strength of Godzilla to press in either side for that to happen.
Three windows were never replaced. I’m fairly certain they were installed in the 1940s, because they are the same style as we had in my childhood home. A fourth window is like Frankenstein, put together using the parts of two different windows. The surgery wasn’t entirely successful. It leads a less than perfect life.
The secret to producing streak-free glass escapes me. I’ve washed windows with Windex, with vinegar, with crumpled newspaper and exotic cloth made specifically for washing windows. Nothing seems to help. I keep washing my windows anyway. Washing away the cobwebs, dust and fly specks is important to me.
It was hard making myself start the annual fall cleaning work. But when I was done, I felt proud of how clean the windows in the office and entryway looked. They made the backyard look clear, bright and well-defined.
The next morning when the sun came up, I was in the kitchen making breakfast when I happily glanced over at the freshly washed windows. The sunshine highlighted dozens of wretched streaks! I recoiled with horror.
A comment my brother Billy had made after he saw streaks in a window I’d washed came back to me. He’d quipped, “What’d you use to wash that window? A Hershey chocolate candy bar?”
Pouring myself a steaming cup of tea, I muttered, “It’s so hard getting good help these days!”